Cross-play on Sea of Thieves to be made optional

Gar! Listen up ye filthy landlubbers! Sea of Thieves, the online pirate adventure game, is to give players the ability to toggle cross-play on or off, developer Rare has confirmed.

The news came by way of a developer update on YouTube, where the games executive producer Joe Neate explained that Rare have been “discussing this at length internally” before making this decision, which has seemingly been made due to player feedback and with the upcoming addition of a competitive PvP mode, Arena, on the horizon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=163&v=NsHTmzKUq2Q

Currently, cross-play between Xbox One and PC players is mandatory, but a lot of console players have complained that this puts them at a big disadvantage against PC players that are using a mouse and keyboard, which offers a player more accuracy and speed if they are good enough. This is obviously an issue that makes things unfair for controller players, particularly in a competitive PvP mode, and Neate stressed the importance of offering players the chance to have “a level playing field”.

When this update arrives—the date of which is not currently known—Xbox One players will be able to opt to matchmake into a “controller only” pool of console players, meaning the game will effectively be split into two player pools – one for controller only and one for cross-play. Players will be able to toggle cross-play on and off at will, and it will be available in both Arena or free-play. Neate also mentioned that keyboard-and-mouse support on Xbox will be coming to Sea of Thieves at some point in the future, and that any players who are playing this way will be automatically put into the cross-play pool.

A lot of console players will be happy that they will soon have the choice of whether they want to mix with their keyboard-and-mouse brethren or not, but I do have concerns about splitting the player pool and how that will affect server populations, particularly on the PC side of things. I don’t know any specifics on any kind of player numbers that Sea of Thieves has, but I’m presuming that Rare must be confident that both console and PC have a strong enough player base to implement this change without it affecting anybodies experience.

Cross-play has been a hot topic in recent months, with Nintendo and Microsoft seemingly being all for it and implementing it more and more in their games; just the other day we reported that Wargroove will feature cross-play, and Fortnite already supports it. Sony hasn’t been quite as eager to promote cross-play, but they did recently give in to player pressure and activate the feature for Rocket League.

Moving forward, cross-play is definitely a feature that players want, as we look to knock down the platform barrier that prevents us from playing with certain friends or socializing with a broader spectrum of players, but the mouse-and-keyboard-versus-controller debate is a hurdle that developers are going to have to find a way to contend with in any game that requires precision aiming and quick reflexes if they want to implement cross-play.

Chris is our resident FPS-obsessed football fanatic who, when not playing an FPS or FIFA, can probably be found spending the odd 100 hours or so building his perfect farm on Stardew Valley. Chris comes to you with a hint of cynicism and plenty of sarcasm.

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