Sea of Thieves release this March and was criticized for the lack of content. It found a niche with players and content creators who took advantage of the cooperative gameplay and quick gameplay. According to Xbox News, Sea of Thieves racked up 300M views on YouTube and more than 40M live broadcast hours on Twitch. With weekly challenges and a consistent stream of free content, Sea of Thieves continued to grow and now has 5 million “pirates” spanned across Xbox and PC platform.
Upcoming Content kept the game afloat
The early criticism was justified on Sea of Thieves. Considering the game was released for full price, players skeptical of the luster of the game. Microsoft and Rare announced released six free DLC at E3 which kept players invested in the long run. The Hungering Deep was released earlier this year and added more dangers to the sea. Cursed Sails releases today, July 31st, and will add time-limited content to bring players back. It will also have Skelton Ships, ghost bullets, and alliances to shake up the world.
Players raise their own stakes
The biggest gameplay influence is actual players. Forming crews, exploring islands, collecting treasure, attacking other player ships, and open negotiations are unique game features that players control. There is no set meta or a “proper” way to play Sea of Thieves which gives players the freedom to play however they like. Gameplay is fairly simple and it is easy for new players to jump in.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t think Sea of Thieves was going to do well but I am glad to see the game become a success for Microsoft and Rare. Many old fans of Rare worried that the company had died under Microsoft‘s acquirement. Rare’s most recent success was their Rare Replay which is a just collection of their past games. Hopefully, Sea of Thieves brings new energy to the studio. I hope to sea future impressive changes to the game.
In this current console war, Xbox has greatly fallen behind PlayStation. End of 2017, Xbox Ones have sold 30 million units worldwide compared to the 73.6 million PlayStation 4. In Electronic Arts‘ reports, they discuss the sales for Microsoft and Sony. In a statement by the CFO, Jake Jorgensen stated “Turning to our expectations for fiscal 2019, we expect sales of current-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony to continue to be strong, with the installed base growing to 130 million consoles by the end of calendar 2018 from 103 million at the end of calendar 2017,” he said. With Sony confirming their sales numbers earlier this year of $79 million, Microsoft makes up for the rest. Microsoft has not officially announced the sales numbers for the Xbox or their gaming division for 2017.
What’s next for Xbox?
Xbox has difficulties staying relevant in the competition. Many of their recent IP releases didn’t sell as many copies as they liked or player base dropped after a few months. Halo 5: Guardians sold 4.8 million units worldwide and Gears of War 4 sold 3.4 million but longtime fans disliked the overall changes. Despite the good sales, the game didn’t leave lasting impressions. Sea of Thieves and Sunset Overdrive are new IP’s that sold relatively well but had a drop off in player numbers after the initial month. Microsoft has been adopting a new strategy by selling some of their exclusive games with cross-play capabilities for Windows. Their backwards compatibility is much better than Nintendo’s and Sony‘s. Their games have better graphics for the Xbox One and if you kept your original copies, you didn’t have to pay any additional cost. Nintendo recently announced there are no plans to bring the Virtual Console store to the Switch and PlayStation 4’s have no backwards compatibility and some ports have performed poorly. On May 8th, they also announced plans to develop a new studio who will work on new IP’s and are hiring people with “experience shipping high quality titles at AAAA standards.” Whether Microsoft will be able to stay ahead of Nintendo Switch remains to be seen. Microsoft will need to release a huge IP to compete with PlayStation considering their strong year in 2017 with Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5 and 2018’s God of War and upcoming Spider-Man game. There is one more month until E3…
Variety – EA releases Xbox One’s sales numbers
Variety – Microsoft’s new studio
Halo 5’s sales numbers
Gears of War 4’s sales numbers
Kotaku – No Virtual Console for Switch