Sea of Thieves has cemented itself as one of the best and most consistent enjoyable live service multiplayer experiences out there over the years, and developer Rare’s excellent support for the pirate action-adventure game has led to some incredible success, with over 25 million players having flocked to its waters since its release. But not all parts of the experience seem to be thriving.
PvP multiplayer mode The Arena launched for Sea of Thieves in 2019, but Rare has announced that the mode will be shutting down when Season Six kicks off on March 10. Following that, you will no longer be able to play the mode or earn any cosmetics exclusive to it. Achievements related to the Arena will become unearnable and be marked as Legacy Achievements on Xbox, and will be hidden and unearnable on Steam. Those who reached or passed Sea Dogs rank 5, however, will be awarded free, as-of-yet unreleased cosmetics as thanks for supporting the mode.
But what exactly is the reason for this change? Well, simply enough, The Arena isn’t successful enough to warrant further support.
“Despite the efforts of a hugely talented team, The Arena unfortunately never met the goals we originally had for it – either in creating a genuine alternative way to play Sea of Thieves with a competitive spin, or a short session experience if you didn’t have the time to commit to an open-ended Adventure session,” the developer writes.
“As we’ve shared before, only 2% of our players’ time is spent in The Arena on a consistent basis, and this has never really changed. We recognise that some criticism we might receive here is that we didn’t invest enough in The Arena to give it the best chance of success alongside the continued growth of Adventure. The reality is that as a new platform, The Arena regretfully never became popular enough to justify focusing our creative efforts there, beyond our initial efforts to refine the experience to appeal to a broader audience.”
Rare says that launching and consistently supporting a competitive multiplayer mode turned out to be “a far bigger investment” than the studio had imagined, and adds, “Despite sharing a lot of the same mechanics as Adventure, it is an entirely different experience, and one that would have required a huge amount of mindshare and development effort to stand alongside it – and given the disparity in audience sizes, it just became impossible to justify.”
Ultimately, the studio has decided that it would make far more sense to redirect the time and attention that The Arena demands into Adventure mode, which is far more popular and is, by far, the meat and potatoes of the experience.
“One other factor is particularly important,” the developer writes. “In December 2020, we announced that we had stopped active development on The Arena. Despite this, over the last couple of years, the work we’ve been doing to expand the overall Sea of Thieves experience with new mechanics, areas, quests and more has had an ongoing knock-on effect on The Arena, due to just how much is shared between the two modes. As a result, The Arena has required considerable development work just to keep it functioning in its base state, and would continue to represent a significant ongoing workload for us.”
Of course, Sea of Thieves players have plenty else to look forward to throughout the entirety of 2022, with Rare recently having shared details on how it plans to keep adding to the ever-growing pirate adventure over the coming year.
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