Saying Goodbye to The Arena

All the important details on the closure of this Sea of Thieves game mode

Hi everyone, Joe “Three Sheets” Neate here. As we announced today during our Sea of Thieves 2022 Preview Event, we’ve made the difficult decision to close down The Arena mode within Sea of Thieves. We wanted to take some time here to talk everyone through this and how we will be going about it. We understand that some people will feel frustrated, so we wanted to give you some more of the reasoning behind it and explain what it means going forward.

Making This 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.

The Arena Community

We understand that this will be a huge disappointment to our small but dedicated community of Arena-focused players. We want to say thank you to everyone who has played and supported The Arena, from those who have just dabbled to those who have run competitive events and built up communities, such as the Notorious Arena League and Sea of Champions. It has been genuinely incredible to see the skill level of some of the players who sprang up around The Arena, and how this played out in the spirit we love to see: with fairness and respect for each other always at the forefront. You are wonderful and creative communities, and we’d love to work with you on moving forward in a world without The Arena.

We are committed to making sure that the efforts of our Arena-playing community are recognised and rewarded even after The Arena has gone, as detailed below.

Closing The Arena

What follows is an overview of how we plan to close The Arena, with details of rewards for people who have previously played, and answers to key questions we expect to arise from this decision.

The Arena will be closed at the start of Season Six, slated for March 10th, 2022.

To celebrate The Arena’s run and reward those who played, we will be making the most of the as yet unreleased ship cosmetics from this game mode.

Everyone who has already reached or passed Sea Dogs rank 5 will be rewarded with the following Arena ship cosmetics to use in Adventure mode:

  • The Azure Scout
  • The Flaming Jackal
  • The Golden Chaser
  • The Lucky Rover
  • The Regal Hound

Those super-dedicated Arena players who have already reached Sea Dogs rank 50 will receive The Good Boy ship cosmetics as a rare bonus in addition to the sets listed above.

All six of these cosmetic sets consist of four items: hull, figurehead, sails and flag.

The cutoff point for being eligible for these rewards was January 27th at 6pm UK time. Rewards will be distributed after the closure of The Arena on March 10th.

Key Questions

Can I still play The Arena and earn Sea Dog cosmetics/Titles before March 10th?

  • Yes, you can still play The Arena, move up through the ranks and unlock the ability to purchase cosmetics and Titles until we close this game mode on March 10th.

Can I retroactively earn any of the ship cosmetics listed above as part of The Arena’s closure?

  • We have made the decision to give out these ship cosmetics as a reward for participation in The Arena up to the date of this announcement, January 27th, so you will no longer be able to head into The Arena and earn them. They are to show our gratitude to everyone who has supported and enjoyed The Arena up to this point.

What will happen to any Sea Dogs cosmetics I’ve already purchased when The Arena closes?

  • Any items already purchased from the Sea Dogs will remain in your inventory and still be equippable.

What happens if I have unlocked Sea Dogs cosmetics or Titles in the shop but haven't purchased them before The Arena closes?

  • You can still purchase the Titles and cosmetics you have unlocked from the appropriate Outpost shop.
  • This also includes the Pirate Legend weapon set and Victorious Sea Dog Blunderbuss in the Pirate Legend Hideout.
  • Any Sea Dogs items that you have not yet unlocked will no longer be visible to you in the shops.

What does this mean for the Pirate Legend weapons and Victorious Sea Dog Blunderbuss when The Arena closes?

  • If you have unlocked these weapons for purchase, they will remain purchasable. If you have not unlocked these items, they will no longer be visible to you in the shops.
  • To allow players to complete the Pirate Legend set, a new Pirate Legend weapon set is in production and will be made available for players to earn during Season Six. More information on how to earn the Legendary Fortune Flintlock, Eye of Reach, Blunderbuss and Cutlass will come later, so stay tuned for an update. These weapons will be available for all players to earn, so those who’ve already unlocked the original weapons will be able to earn the new variants too.

If I reach or have reached rank 50 with the Sea Dogs, will this still count towards Pirate Legend?

  • Yes, reaching rank 50 with the Sea Dogs will still count on your journey towards Pirate Legend.

What happens to any Xbox achievements that could only be earned in The Arena?

  • After thorough investigation, we were unable to find a fair and elegant way to repurpose the Arena-centric achievements for use in Sea of Thieves’ sandbox Adventure mode. We were unwilling to compromise in a way that would disrespect the efforts of players who fully met the original criteria, so alongside retiring The Arena as a game mode, we will also be retiring the accompanying achievements. These will be marked as Legacy Achievements on Xbox, and will no longer be visible or earnable on the Steam platform after March 10th.

  • The following two achievements will remain technically unlockable for Xbox players beyond The Arena’s retirement:

    • Master of the Arena
      Awarded to pirates who purchase the Arena Master Sea Dogs Promotion, available only to those who have hit rank 50 in the Sea Dogs Trading Company.

    • Glorious Sea Dog
      Awarded to pirates who purchase the Glorious Sea Dogs Hat, Jacket, Hook and Gloves – items only available to those who’ve unlocked the Professional Sea Dog Grade V Commendation.

  • Both of these achievements are awarded based on the purchasing of Sea Dogs items, so those who qualify to purchase them can still do so after The Arena has been removed from the game. To be eligible, you must meet the stated criteria before March 10th to guarantee the availability of the items and associated achievements. However, please note that as mentioned above, this will not be the case for Steam players due to The Arena’s achievements being removed from that platform on March 10th.

Thank You

I’d like to close by saying thank you for reading this far, and for your understanding as you take this news on board. We know that not everyone is going to agree with this decision, but we truly believe it’s the best one for the overall future of Sea of Thieves. We are genuinely excited about the plans for Adventure mode that we’ve talked about today, as well as some of the other amazing things we’re yet to reveal. We look forward to 2022 being another huge year for the game and we’re filled with excitement for the adventures we’re yet to have with you all!

Thanks again for your ongoing support for Sea of Thieves and the hugely passionate development team here who continue to give it everything they’ve got.

We’ll see you on the seas!