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What Adding A Battle Pass Means For The Future Of Sea Of Thieves

Sea of Thieves was first released in 2018 to an overall middling reception. Over the course of the following year, however, developer Rare earned some of the acclaim the game's day one version was lacking through a series of updates. Now, Rare has announced yet another significant change-up to its flagship online title. Whereas previously, updates were made to Sea of Thieves on a monthly basis, new content will now primarily be released through a seasonal, battle pass model, as popularized by Fortnite.

This change will take effect in January of next year. Each season is scheduled to last around three months, at the beginning of which will be new content for players to experience. Minor patches and live events, however, will not be tied to this schedule, and may occur in the midst of a season.

Its battle pass, as in virtually all other games that have implemented one, will be divided into free and premium tiers, the latter of which is called the Plunder Pass. Access to the Plunder Pass is to be the only new addition gated behind a paywall.

Sea of Thieves is, in one key sense, already similar to Fortnite in that character progression is effectively nonexistent. In Fortnite, players can amass cosmetic items, but at the start of each match, begin on an even playing field with everyone else, regardless of in-game progress. In Sea of Thieves too, while existing systems like reputation levels with in-game trading companies and cosmetics act as goalposts, veterans have no effectual gameplay advantage over players brand new to the game.

Fortnite's battle pass allows players to work toward unlocking content, even when powering up a character not being an option. Rare described its battle pass as serving a similar function, since progress markers are currently minimal, especially when compared to other popular online games like Destiny 2 or World of Warcraft (which is still receiving new expansions).

Fans of Sea of Thieves are more-or-less divided as to whether or not the battle pass is a welcome addition. One commenter on Reddit explained that one of the reasons they enjoyed the game was because Sea of Thieves didn't include the pressure of progress-based unlockables. Another post argued that the battle pass will ultimately put less pressure on players, as its three-month-long seasons will take the place of limited, monthly events.

The varied responses illustrate once again that Sea of Thieves is more popular than many realize. Since the precise contents of the battle pass have not yet been detailed, exactly how its addition will impact the game and its growing popularity will become clearer when Sea of Thieves is updated at the beginning of next year.