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Sea of Thieves reaches five million players as Cursed Sails expansion launches

Plus, 40 million hours broadcast on Twitch but it's still unclear how player count translates to sales due to Game Pass inclusion

Xbox and Rare have announced a new milestone for its shared world pirate adventure Sea of Thieves.

The game has now been enjoyed by more than five million players since launching back in March. It shows steady improvement after Sea of Thieves attracted two million players within its first week on sale, and suggests Rare has managed to retain much of that initial audience.

As with that original milestone, it's not entirely clear how player count translates into sales. Sea of Thieves is the first Microsoft title to be included in Xbox Game Pass, and the total number of players inevitably includes subscribers as well as purchases. That said, sales are believed to make up a significant portion of its player count - especially as the game achieved its three-month sales target in a single day.

It's also unclear whether these are active players, or just the number of people who have tried the game since it launched. GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Xbox for clarification.

Ultimately, sales may not matter as much as player count given that Sea of Thieves has been set up as a long-tail games-as-a-service title. Regardless of what players have spent to access the experience, providing the game retains a healthy active audience, development can continue.

The accomplishment and comes just as the studio launches its second major context expansion, Cursed Sails. The add-on introduces a new three-player ship, an Alliance system, and enemy skeleton crews that scour the seas. It's the first of two new expansions announced at E3, with Forsaken Shores due in September.

Sea of Thieves has also increased its presence in the streaming and video spaces, with 300 million views for videos on YouTube and 40 million live broadcast hours on Twitch.

On the Xbox post announcing the news, executive producer Joe Neate said: "Being able to share that we've welcomed more than five million players to Sea of Thieves since launch is both inspiring and humbling.

"Seeing our creative community embrace the possibilities that Sea of Thieves presents is an inspiration to everyone at the studio, and on behalf of us all at Rare, I'd like to thank everyone who's been a part of this amazing adventure."

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was