It seems like just yesterday that we launched the Insider Programme for Sea of Thieves. We felt that getting our game into players' hands early, learning from their feedback and building a community around this game was critical for a new, shared world experience like Sea of Thieves. We started with our first 1000 players in December 2016, and we have been steadily expanding the player base and feature set over the last year.

Since we began we've seen our community grow as players go adventuring in our magical world, we've seen battles held, friends made, instruments played and quite a bit of overindulgence on our surprisingly strong grog. Most excitingly, we've seen many, many amazing stories from our players, and recently we allowed them to share these with the world during our Closed Beta. It was incredible to be able watch players live in Sea of Thieves for the first time, to see their adventures unfold first-hand and to hear the stories they had to share.

As we head towards launch on March 20th, we have one Final Beta test to run. This gives us an opportunity to grow our scale testing to our largest number yet, it allows us to test a broader range of features than ever before, and it also gives anyone who's interested a chance to play and experience Sea of Thieves for themselves.

With that in mind, we are announcing the Sea of Thieves Final Beta, starting on Friday March 9th and running through to Sunday March 11th at 10am GMT (check the end time in your own timezone).

Official Sea of Thieves Developer Update: Final Beta

Duration 4:33

Who can take part in the Final Beta?

This is open to absolutely anyone to play, and can be downloaded now from the Store on Xbox One and Windows 10. To install, you'll just need to search for and install the Sea of Thieves Final Beta. The Sea of Thieves Final Beta requires an Xbox Live account on both PC and Xbox One, with an Xbox Live Gold subscription required on Xbox One.

What will I be playing?

In the Final Beta, alongside the Gold Hoarders, we will be testing Merchant Alliance voyages for the first time, giving players an entirely new way to play. We are also introducing an intense, emergent opportunity into the world with the chance of a Skeleton Fort now being occupied. Watch out for that telltale skull cloud above a fort which indicates the chance of great rewards but also great risk. Will other players have seen it? Might they even be there already? Will you work together or against each other? We can't wait to watch and find out.

In addition, we're excited to announce that Sea of Thieves' Xbox One X enhancements will be available during the Final Beta! We're thrilled that players will be able to experience Sea of Thieves in 4K on the most powerful console ever made.

Can I share my stories?

Absolutely! Whether co-streaming on Mixer, sharing on Twitch, uploading to YouTube or sharing via Game DVR, we are thoroughly looking forward to seeing what our players get up to.

What can I expect?

This is our biggest test yet, and we are excited to see how many players turn up, but we also want to ensure a good experience for everyone who is in and playing. What this means is that as we hit peak times, we might have to temporarily put a hold on other players joining whilst we manage player load. If this happens, we will be sharing the latest news and status via the status page on the Sea of Thieves website, and we will be sharing updates on Twitter from the official @SeaOfThieves handle.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to where we are now. Everyone who has played in the Technical Alpha, Closed Beta or Scale Tests – anyone who has submitted ideas and feedback, filled out surveys, shared their stories or made friends in our world – we wouldn't be where we are without you, and we cannot wait to see where this adventure takes us next.

Here's to the next leg of the journey!

Sea of Thieves is now available for pre-order in the Xbox Store, and you can also play the game at launch on March 20th, 2018 as part of Xbox Game Pass. For the latest on Sea of Thieves, stay tuned to seaofthieves.com and our social channels!