Hot Topic: SoT’s Price Tag Justified?

Pre-Orders for Sea of Thieves, among many other things, got announced at the Game Awards 2017. Since then there has been a lot of discussion and controversy on the Price of the Game. A lot of people say that is not justified, mainly because of the lack of Content in the game. We took some time to look at the Topic as objectively as possible and answer most of the open questions.

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What is an “AAA” Game?

Answering this question first is important to understand the Price Tag of Games these days. This is the Definition from Wikipedia:

“An AAA game (usually pronounced “triple A game”) is an informal classification used for video games produced and distributed by a mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing budgets. AAA game development is associated with high economic risk, with high levels of sales required to obtain profitability.”

Is Sea of Thieves an AAA Game?

A lot of people seem to connect the Studio “Rare” with rather small development. This is mainly the case because we didn’t hear this name a lot in the recent past. Rare is mainly known for video Game Classics like “GoldenEye 007”, but these Games are 20 years old now. What has happened since then?

Well, Microsoft bought Rare in 2002 for $375 million. Now this price alone should give you the Idea that Rare is far from being some small Indie developer. They had around 200 Employees in 2008.

But most importantly, the Publisher of Sea of Thieves is Microsoft Studios. That’s right, the Company that bought Mojang for $2.5 Billion in 2014. Now that’s a whole lot of money.

To give you a Perspective Microsofts Net Worth is about 3.5 times the Net Worths of Nintendo+EA+Sony+Activision Blizzard+2K+Ubisoft

We might not yet see the amount of money and work invested into Sea of Thieves because it is an early Alpha, but it definitely exists.

Looking at those numbers we can draw one conclusion: Sea of Thieves is definitely an AAA Title. It might not be marketed as one right now, mainly because the developers have a lot of Secrets, but don’t forget this. Expect the same amount of Work and Money put into this game as you would from Call of Duty or Overwatch. Also, it’s a Microsoft exclusive game and they will use it to leverage their image as a company, so we can assume that they have high Expectations for the Game.

How much can an AAA Title Cost?

AAA Titles seem to have settled for a Price around 60$ most of the time. This price varies with region because Taxes are different for each Country. There is a great article from GameRant on the topic here.

Today, these AAA Titles are Single-Player and Multiplayer Games. The good thing for the Developers is that they can make a singleplayer game, erase the major Bugs and then basically sell it without having to put in more money. Multiplayer Games need constant balancing, content Updates, and Server Maintenance. This is the case because Multiplayer Games are intended to last for longer than a few hours.  Developers need to pay these prices, but they also need to have an extremely high Money income. This is the case because the production of AAA games tends to cost millions of Dollars. This issue usually gets solved with either Expansion, a monthly fee or mostly Microtransactions. Now, these transactions are a very important Point in the pricing of a game. If I pay 60$ and then have to pay hundreds to progress, I would honestly rather pay 70$ upfront to get the real, full game.

Will Sea of Thieves have Microtransactions?

We don’t know the answer to this question right now. We do know that there are exclusive Outfits that you can only get through preordering the game, but this doesn’t mean that you will be able to spend money on the game.

To me, Microtransactions are totally fine as long as they don’t put a wall between players and Content and they don’t give any advantage in the game. I am totally content seeing a player with a cool outfit, as long as I can get the same without spending lots of money. Even Pay-Only Cosmetics are fine to me as long as they don’t obviously look a lot better than the ones you get in the game.

A lot of triple-A Games have a full price tag + Microtransactions and I don’t want to dive into this topic while we have no clear information on it. I will write a separate article if there are any changes to this.

Lack of Content

Now we have made clear that Sea of Thieves is an AAA game, but what does that really mean? We, the players, don’t care if someone has spent millions of dollars on a game as long as there is no content that we get.

We have to be real about this. The content that we saw in the gameplay, Trailers and Alpha sessions isn’t really deep. There’s not much more to do than Start a Voyage, Find the Treasure, Bring the Chest to an Outpost and then we will be able to spend the Gold. With the added encounters with enemyCrews this makes for a fun game to spend some hours on, but no one would pay a $60 Price for it.

The Developers still have a lot of secrets regarding the progression and meaning of the Game. I talked about progression already in This Article, but there are still lots of missing things. Questions like “Why do I want to progress?” have no clear answer yet. We know that you can gain Reputation and unlock new Voyages, Titles, and Cosmetics, but is that enough?

The lack of vertical Progression in the game is a new Concept, something that doesn’t fit into the current gaming World. We are used to gaining Skill, Rating Points, and Min-Max our way to the hardest Dungeon. In most games, we strive to become the best Player, get that high rank and beat that Boss. Our main motivation is the vertical Progression.

Sea of Thieves takes this whole element out. This leaves us wondering, what are we even playing for? Do they really think that cosmetics will keep their game alive?

Again, we have no clear answer to this Question. There is no way for us to tell if Progression will go any deeper or if hardcore players will have played through the game in 2 weeks.

Region Pricing

This Topic has been very controversial, as prices in the Microsoft store vary greatly, depending on where you are located. The Price in the USA is 60$, it’s 70€ in most of Europe and 80$ in Australia. A lot of people, especially from the economically weaker countries, can’t afford this price tag. We are used to having Price differences in Different Regions like on Steam for example, but not so big. This Decision is coming from Microsoft and it’s hard to tell if these Prices will be adjusted in the future. They have to decide whether it is worth it for the company to go more players and less revenue or more revenue and fewer players. I can’t really say much on this topic, although I can see that some people feel treated unfairly. I hope Microsoft does something about it and adjusts the prices so everyone gets a chance to play.

Should you buy the Game right now?

The answer to this question is way simpler than it seems to be. You can see the amount of Content we have right now. If you aren’t sure, watch the Dev Gameplay and read these two Articles by me:

Why YOU should try Sea of Thieves!

Trading Companies and Progression

Now, YOU have to decide.

Do you have faith that the developers will add more Content to an extent that will allow you to enjoy the game at release? -> Pre-Order

Are you unsure and want to see a bit more of the Content and Progression before spending any money? -> Don’t Pre-Order

This whole controversy is so simple to answer, as with any Pre-Order Game. You have time to Pre-order for another 3.5 months. In this time, we will get a ton of news on Progression and all the Topics that YOU are probably concerned about right now. No one is forcing you to spend money on the game right now. You will still get the Exclusive Content if you pre-order 2 weeks before release.

We won’t be able to make a final verdict on the price of the game before the launch date. In its current State, it isn’t worth 60$ to most people. At release, it might very well be.

Stay tuned for more Articles in the future and Happy Sailing!

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