When running a multiplayer-driven game like Sea of Thieves, it's imperative to rely on the community for guidance on where to go next with the title. Sometimes it's a mix of using the community feedback and creating your own direction for the game and seeing where it takes you, almost like what Blizzard does with games like Overwatch and World of Warcraft. In the case of Rare's Sea of Thieves, the developers are looking to give the gaming community more of what they want and explained how they're taking fan feedback into account for future content rollouts for the PC and Xbox One exclusive.
Speaking with Gamespot at this year's E3, Sea of Thieves executive producer, Joe Neate, and the senior designer, Shelley Preston, along with design director Mike Chapman, explained what makes the game tick, where they're going next with the title, and most importantly how fan feedback fuels the progress for the game. Chapman in particular explained:
It's a mix of giving players what they want, putting that Sea of Thieves spin on it, but also surprising them. It's the fact that a lot of players would ask, 'I would really like an expanded world. I want more regions to explore.' We haven't just given them that, we've actually gone and made the visuals a core part of the gameplay and added in a whole region with volcanoes that's geologically unstable. We want to surprise players, and there's things we do in the game that won't be expected and I think both of those aspects are at a healthy mix right now.
I think that's the best way to go about it.
A lot of times it's easy to get wrapped up entirely in the negative criticisms of a game and attempt to appease all the naysayers while forgoing the identity of the game and what its original vision was supposed to be. We've seen games like Firefall become a victim of design by committee, and it eventually had to shut down.
We've also seen other games that don't take player feedback into account in a timely enough manner and lose a lot of players in result, similar to what happened with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, which peaked at over 3.2 million players back in January of 2018, but has steadily lost half its audience according to Steam Charts. A lot of players cite their reasons for leaving being the lack of the developers fixing the latency issues, slow content rollout, and the constant performance issues.
It's important to be able to balance out the complaints with being able to carve out a game's own identity. Rare seems to want to run that fine line between the two ideologies of building a game.
One of the things the team really wanted to focus on was getting more emergent tools into the game to encourage positive player interactions, such as the Hungering Deep update that forced multiple teams to work together in order to take down the Megalodon.
On the positive side of things, the majority of the feedback from gamers has been that Sea of Thieves is fun to play, but it needs more content. And of course, Rare is happy to oblige. The team plans on fleshing out more things to do around the game world and give players more opportunities to have fun playing with and hunting down other players.