Rare says Sea of Thieves hit its three-month sales target on first day, but that doesn't really tell us that much

Rare says Sea of Thieves hit its three-month sales target on first day, but that doesn't really tell us that much

Rare and Microsoft's pirate-em-up Sea of Thieves hit its three-month sales target in just one day.

That's according to Rare producer Joe Neate, who told USGamer that the studio had anticipated hitting a specific target by the end of June which Sea of Thieves hit on its first day on sale.

Unsurprisingly, Neate says that this is largely down to Xbox Game Pass, which gives Windows 10 and Xbox One users access to a large library of titles for just$9.99 each month, or for nothing using the free trial.

Sea of Thieves launched into this scheme, with Microsoft announcing a week after launch that the game had two million players.

"I think [Game Pass] was part of the success. We beat all of our sales numbers that we had planned," Neate said.

We literally—I won't go into what specifically our sales numbers were because that's confidential—but [...] we had a target to hit by the end of June, which we hit in day one of sales. It was fascinating because we were the first [Xbox first-party offered day one on Game Pass]. And, like, for the most part you kind of never want to be the first. You want to learn from someone else on things like that."

Neate goes on to say that Sea of Thieves saw a high conversion rate from users opting for the free trial and those who were prepared to pay for the game.

He continued: "We saw really high conversion of people who came in, played Sea of Thieves, and then either bought the game or signed up to Game Pass."

What constitutes a "really high conversion" rate isn't really clear, nor is what targets Rare had in mind. When pressed on this fact, Neate says that he's unable to share those figures.

That Sea of Thieves hit big numbers so quickly isn't exactly surprising - with Xbox Game Pass, consumers could pick up the game for $9.99 or less, as opposed to the $60 that the title would have cost at retail. Additionally, we have no indication of how many people are still playing Sea of Thieves.

Saying you have a huge user numbers is all very well and good, but when the game in essence costs one-sixth of its RRP - and yes, we know that users have access to more than just one game - the statistic that matters is how many people are playing the game every single day and the game's concurrent player base.

As subscription services become more prevalent in the games market, we're going to have less and less of an idea of how well specific titles are doing. And sales figures are going to matter much less - we don't need to know how many people have played your game. We need to know how many daily and concurrent users you have. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.