Sea of Thieves devs cancel first big, unpopular change: “We messed up with the messaging around this, and its now gone”

Sea of Thieves (opens in new tab) has a respawning problem, but the developer’s proposed solution may have been even worse. As the game works right now, players who die take a brief trip to a ghostly ship then respawn good as new. Rare had planned to add a Death Cost in a coming update that would serve as an extra, scaling penalty for meeting your demise. Here’s how it would function according to the official release notes (opens in new tab):

“Death Cost – This new feature has the Captain of the Ferry of the Damned deduct a small gold fee when you die. Rates are dependant on the cause of death, so the more avoidable the death, the less patience the Captain will have when we enable this feature!”

This change would make it less lucrative for solo players to pull off big challenges like taking down Skull Forts all by themselves and also reinforce the social nature of the game; Rare later clarified that dying at the hands of fellow players would never incur a cost, so you wouldn’t be punished for participating in PvP (or being spawn camped by griefers). But this so-called “Death Tax” proved unpopular with many of the game’s most dedicated players across Reddit and other forums. Really unpopular, threads about it were dominating the front page of the Sea of Thieves subreddit at one point.

Rare noticed the consternation, as this apologetic tweet from Sea of Thieves executive producer Joe Neate proves:

Letting everyone know we’ve heard the feedback and the proposed ‘Death Cost’ in #SeaOfThieves is, well, dead. We messed up with the messaging around this, and it’s now gone. Thanks for the honest feedback & discussion on this. 26, 2018

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Many big online games have to make handfuls of unpopular changes then walk them back before they learn how to be this responsive to their community, so that should be encouraging for dedicated fans. Granted, I always worry about developers dulling their vision of the game in favor of trying to please everybody, but in this case I think Rare’s response was warranted – nobody likes losing money, especially when you die!

With the Death Cost dispensed of before it could ever siphon off our hard-earned doubloons, Sea of Thieves at least avoided adding a death problem to its respawning problem. Meanwhile, Reddit user JacksonWallop (opens in new tab) has a pretty compelling (and informatively animated) solution for the issue of endless PvP respawn revenge – pushing ship respawn locations out ever further for being sunk by the same crew. If Rare can balance its own uniquely idiosyncratic vision for shared-world buccaneering with clever player feedback like this, Sea of Thieves should have smooth sailing ahead.

Meeting your end on the high seas a little too often? Read through our Sea of Thieves tips (opens in new tab) for some solid survival strategies. 

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