Last week, on January 26th, the Sea of Thieves team revealed just some of the updates coming to the game in 2022. A host of time-based, narrative-driven content is coming alongside the regular Seasonal updates that have expanded the game over the last few years. But with the addition of so much content to the game’s cooperative Adventure mode, there aren’t enough resources to continue supporting its separate competitive Arena. Toward the end of the announcement post the team confirmed that the Arena would be retired at the start of Season Six, currently planned to start on March 10th, 2022. Executive Producer, Joe Neate, penned a separate post on the same day with more explanation about their decision.
Firstly, this was an extremely tough decision, but we firmly believe it’s the right one to allow us to focus on our plans for the central free-roaming Adventure mode. Despite the efforts of a hugely talented team, The Arena unfortunately never met the goals we originally had for it – either in creating a genuine alternative way to play Sea of Thieves with a competitive spin, or a short session experience if you didn’t have the time to commit to an open-ended Adventure session.
As we’ve shared before, only 2% of our players’ time is spent in The Arena on a consistent basis, and this has never really changed. We recognise that some criticism we might receive here is that we didn’t invest enough in The Arena to give it the best chance of success alongside the continued growth of Adventure. The reality is that as a new platform, The Arena regretfully never became popular enough to justify focusing our creative efforts there, beyond our initial efforts to refine the experience to appeal to a broader audience.
While we’re incredibly proud of where the game is now and the decisions we’ve made since launch back in 2018, we look back at The Arena with pride mixed with regret that we didn’t manage to reach the wider audience that would have allowed us to keep building upon its foundations.
We learned a lot from the launch and development of The Arena, but one thing that really stands out is that launching a competitive mode is a far bigger investment and requires a far bigger creative focus than we realised going in. Despite sharing a lot of the same mechanics as Adventure, it is an entirely different experience, and one that would have required a huge amount of mindshare and development effort to stand alongside it – and given the disparity in audience sizes, it just became impossible to justify.
One other factor is particularly important. In December 2020, we announced that we had stopped active development on The Arena. Despite this, over the last couple of years, the work we’ve been doing to expand the overall Sea of Thieves experience with new mechanics, areas, quests and more has had an ongoing knock-on effect on The Arena, due to just how much is shared between the two modes. As a result, The Arena has required considerable development work just to keep it functioning in its base state, and would continue to represent a significant ongoing workload for us – which is ultimately what leads us to the decision we’ve shared with you today.Joe Neate, Executive Producer
The rest of the post details rewards for current Arena players from Rank 5 all the way up to Rank 50 and above. An FAQ on the game’s official forums contains more answers for active Arena players including mention of specific in-game Achievements. TrueAchievements has the list of unlocks that may become unobtainable if Rare can’t implement a solution before March.
I’ve added the date to the Watch List calendar. Thanks to Wakayama_PT for pointing out the update.