Rare mentioned how 2022 would be the "biggest year yet" for Sea of Thieves during its preview event, but in case you missed it, it's also going to be retiring the game's Arena Mode on 10th March 2022.
It's not gone down the best with the game's community, but in a lengthy post over on the official Sea of Thieves forums, Rare explained some of the reasoning behind the decision.
Apparently, just "2%" of the game's players spend time in "The Arena" on a consistent basis. Here's the full message via the official Sea of Thieves forums:
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.
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.
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.
Once again, The Arena will close at the beginning of Season Six on March 10th, 2022. Anyone who has reached or passed certain Sea Dogs ranks will be rewarded with Arena ship cosmetics to use in Adventure mode. You can learn more about this over on the Sea of Thieves forums. There's also a detailed FAQ regarding The Arena closure.
How do you feel about Rare's decision to close down The Arena? Leave a comment down below.