Sea Of Thieves Delays Season 10, Leaving It In Very Choppy Waters

Sea Of Thieves Delays Season 10, Leaving It In Very Choppy Waters

Sea of Thieves Season 10 won’t launch for another two and a half months.

To say that Rare’s popular pirate adventure sandbox is going through an extended rough patch is to undersell its recent woes. The launch of Season 10, its next and long-awaited milestone on the 2023 content roadmap, has been delayed until October 19th. The delay comes as the latest in a string of blows to the game’s community, who have spent the bulk of the year waiting for something, anything, to happen.

Season 9 began in early March and was supposed to be well and truly done by now. It was a small update by Sea of Thieves seasonal standard, only ever designed to make small quality-of-life improvements. Now that it has dragged on for four months, the player base has grown restless, ready for something new and fresh to inspire their adventures again.

That was before Rare announced today that Season 10 would be delayed into October and that Season 9 would have to limp on for another two and a half months. As a result, the game now finds itself in the worst kind of limbo. Its players are bored, and its small but mighty army of content creators — who rely on in-game interactions to fuel their adventures — can’t find the energy to keep playing when the seas are so quiet. And now they’re going to have to wait even longer for a sense of normalcy to return.

What happened to Sea of Thieves Season 10?

The reason for Season 10’s delay appears to be the result of a technical roadblock internally. “… even though the team is working incredibly hard to pull (Season 10’s) ambitious feature set together, ultimately, we’re not where we want to be,” said Creative Director Mike Chapman in a video update posted to the Sea of Thieves YouTube channel.

“It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly,” reads a blog post from head of community Christina McGrath, “and we share your disappointment that it’s something we’ve needed to do. However, after careful consideration, we firmly believe that it’s the best thing to do for the quality of the release, the sustainability of our development process and the wellbeing of our team.

“One such challenge has been the Season Ten headline feature, which we’ve already talked about as something that we’ve found tougher than anticipated to pull together – especially to the quality bar we’re striving to meet.”

Rare has indeed mentioned before that the major feature it plans to implement for Sea of Thieves Season 10 is taking a bit of figuring out. The last time we heard about this was on an episode of the Sea of Thieves Podcast in April, where senior development figures provide updates on the state of the game and give small teases about upcoming work. What that feature is exactly remains unclear. What is clear is that though this is not the first time Rare has had to delay the beginning of a new season — Season 9 itself was originally slated to begin in December 2022 before it too was delayed — it has never had to delay for this long.

It also won’t shock fans to hear that Rare has struck some kind of difficult technical hurdle. The game has grappled for years with bugs and technical hitches and has long screamed under stress when new features are added. In many ways, the bugs and glitches have become part of Sea of Thieves’ charm. At the beginning of a new season or update, it’s not uncommon for it to feel as though it’s being held together with gum and the power of positive thinking.

There are a number of theorised causes for this. Some pin it on the decision to move from the Unity engine to the lesser-understood Unreal midway through its original development. Others pin its problems on the increasingly decrepit Xbox One. Sea of Thieves now barely runs on the launch model Xbox One, but Rare is still bound by Xbox decree to support it, a shackle around the game’s neck fans long to see cut off.

Bad to worse

Rare is clearly aware that the news of a delay is going to cause a great deal of upset among the community, which is no longer merely restless for new content and is now actively howling for it.

BoxyFresh, the most popular full-time Sea of Thieves creator on Twitch, has been ditching the game for a first-time playthrough of Elden Ring, It Takes Two, and variety streamer favourite Only Up. PhuzzyBond has reduced his schedule of Sea of Thieves streams to just a few four-hour jaunts per week and has also been dipping into other games like Hunt: Showdown to entertain his audience.

This creator drift is everywhere you look among the game’s most dedicated streamers. The benefit of Sea of Thieves‘ open-ended make-your-own-fun design is that getting into trouble is as easy as bumping into another crew. But the lack of new content has caused the player base to shrink, leaving the seas feeling empty and creators at a loss for what to do. The game’s PvE content isn’t enough to entertain most viewers, many of whom want to see steals — daring heists of the game’s most valuable treasures from under the noses of other players. Steals require the stalking of prey, a certain amount of 5D chess, and lying in wait for the perfect moment to strike. But you can’t steal anything if people aren’t completing voyages, world events, or forts in the first place.

Is there any silver lining?

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Rare has just launched the new Legend of Monkey Island adventure for the game, its latest partnership with Disney on pirate content. The adventures contained within that storyline will roll out at a slower pace than normal, giving players a reason to come back for a bit — the first adventure is now live and free for all players to enjoy, and has been well-received by the community. Given Disney’s expectations for quality around any partnership it enters into, one wonders if that process might have meant reallocating developer resources away from the game’s seasonal content to its detriment.

Rare also says it’s rolling out other ways to keep players happy while they wait for Sea of Thieves Season 10 — Gold And Glory Weekends (which pay double gold and trading company renown) and Community Day (which pays out even more gold and renown) are coming back, along with some new community events. The lure of farming some extra gold and grinding their Athena rep while the servers are quiet may be enough to entice a few players back onto the seas, but it’s not going to keep them coming back when the gold and XP bonus goes away.

This is to say nothing of the game’s overall state, which still struggles with hit registration issues and a growing problem with cheaters, both of which Rare is working to address. With the overall lack of updates, both problems go untouched.

Season 9 will have still dragged on for seven months by the time it ends in October. Over half a year of Sea of Thieves’ planned ten-year lifespan will have been spent at a standstill. Worse, Rare’s 2023 content roadmap is now completely up in smoke, shuffling everything that was supposed to come later even further down the line.

And all pirates can do, for now, is wait.

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