Sea of Thieves Letting Players Opt-Out of Cross Play

A controversy has erupted in the Sea of Thieves community after prominent streamer Summit1G vented his frustrations over a proposed change to the online multiplayer pirate game’s cross-play. Sea of Thieves currently features full cross-play between PC and Xbox One, so all players are matched with all others. Rare’s planned change, revealed by executive producer Joe Neate, is to add an option for Xbox players who are using a controller to opt out of cross-play and be matched only with other Xbox controller users.

Summ1G’s response represents the views and fears of many PC gamers, which is that given the option to opt out of the game’s cross-play, Sea of Thieves players on Xbox One will take it. His claim is that any such option will effectively divide the two platforms entirely, and that the PC community of Sea of Thieves won’t be able to subsist on its own. It’s a worst-case scenario perspective, but it’s also good feedback for Rare as the company considers just how to implement this feature and evaluates the risks involved.

In response to community discussion regarding cross-play, Rare has clarified some details surrounding the issue. Rare studio head Craig Duncan took to Twitter and posted four bullet points regarding the upcoming cross-play change and the state of Sea of Thieves:

  • Rare isn’t removing crossplay, but is planning to add an option for console players using a controller to opt out of cross-play if they choose.
  • The feature isn’t arriving in February, but Rare wants to have it ready for The Arena update.
  • Sea of Thieves servers will have the same player density after the change as they do today.
  • Player population on both PC and Xbox is super healthy. Rare plans to share more info on this going forward.

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In summary, Duncan explains that the team wouldn’t be implementing the feature if they thought it’d risk the current state of Sea of Thieves cross-play. He also states that this functionality is all-but-necessary to ensure the quality of experience in The Arena, which will be a PvP-heavy competitive game mode. Lastly, his final point is that the PC population is healthier than the controversy makes it out to be.

This controversy has dug into some of the less tasteful issues within the Sea of Thieves community, such as how PC and Xbox players view the other, their respective playing habits, and their skill level. Part of Summit1G’s claim is that Xbox players absolutely will opt out of cross-play, because they’re inherently at a disadvantage using a controller instead of mouse and keyboard. As such, one of the talking points in the community is that Xbox players are going to ruin the game for PC players, because they aren’t as good.

Unfortunately, Rare’s comments on this issue may not sate the more irate part of its audience. Nevertheless, Rare will do what it thinks is best for its game.

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