Xbox NewsSea of ThievesXbox Games

Will Sea of Thieves go free-to-play at some point?

Photo of author

Shawn Farner

With the news that Sea of Thieves will soon be getting Seasons, a major question now has to be asked about the game’s future. There are plenty of other titles out there making use of the Seasonal model, including Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Destiny 2. What all of those share in common with each other — but not with Sea of Thieves — is that they’re all free-to-play. Could Rare’s pirate adventure game follow suit? Could Sea of Thieves go free-to-play?

The move would certainly make sense, especially when you consider the fact that Sea of Thieves plans to offer a “Plunder Pass” when it kicks off Seasons. The Plunder Pass will be akin to the “battle pass” found in other games, though not many of those — save for Call of Duty — charge players for the game and for the battle pass. Typically, the game is free-to-play and the pass has a price tag.

The Plunder Pass opens up a new revenue path for Sea of Thieves. Those outside the Xbox ecosystem may be more willing to pay $10 every three months for content in a free-to-play title versus buying a game and paying for a season pass. And for those who do subscribe to Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft could toss the Plunder Pass in at no cost and sweeten that service’s value proposition even more.

Sea of Thieves is at the point now where a free-to-play model could really send the player count soaring. The game has experienced a resurgence these past few years, buoyed by Xbox Game Pass and, later, its release on Steam. Going free-to-play would lower the remaining barriers of entry, enable more players to join in the pirate fun, and let Microsoft and Rare generate more money from cosmetics and the Plunder Pass.

Once upon a time, Rocket League was a paid title that eventually introduced seasons, rolled out a battle pass of its own, and then went free. Sea of Thieves could follow in that game’s footsteps and perhaps see greater success as a result. Will it? Nothing has been confirmed yet. To me, though, this move feels inevitable.