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Looks like Rare is listening to ‘Sea of Thieves’ players in a way many game developers could learn from.
Sea of Thieves proved to be an instant success for Microsoft, but the rollout had a few problems. In the early days after launch, players struggled to sign in and experienced problems collecting loot. Making matters worse, developer Rare announced a planned change to the game that was unpopular with the player base. The idea was to add a “death cost” you’d have to pay from your stash of gold when you died.
In the Sea of Thieves forum, the original description for the death cost went like this: “This new feature has the Captain of the Ferry of the Damned deduct a small gold fee when you die. Rates are dependant [sic] on the cause of death, so the more avoidable the death, the less patience the Captain will have when we enable this feature!”
The outcry came fast and furiously. One player replied, “Strongly disagree. This will absolutely destroy the game for newer players. As well as increase toxicity. I see people intentionally killing people in ways that cost the most money for the sole purpose of making them lose more.”
Another player chimed in with, “Death Cost is a bad idea. Personally, I have fun randomly blowing up my teammates with gunpowder barrels.”
While that commenter won’t win any sportsmanship awards, they had a point.
Thankfully, the developers are listening. On Twitter, executive producer Joe Neate posted, “Letting everyone know we’ve heard the feedback and the proposed ‘Death Cost’ in Sea of Thieves is, well, dead. We messed up with the messaging around this, and it’s now gone.”
Rare posted an update on the Sea of Thieves forums, explaining that player-versus-player deaths wouldn’t have resulted in a Death Cost. Problem was, they didn’t say that in the original post. “We understand that this addition to the release notes was a little confusing, and in the future we will ensure that any future updates we discuss give you a better understanding of how and why we’re implementing it.”
It does sound like the death cost would’ve been like throwing salt on a wound. You died, after all. Isn’t that punishment enough?
In any case, it’s good to see that Rare is listening to its players and making changes quickly. Some other games—ahem, Destiny 2 — could learn from them. Representatives for Rare put it nicely on the forum. “Sea of Thieves is constantly evolving, and any feature we will test, monitor data and listen to your feedback to ensure we’re making the right decisions.”