Rare pushed out the 1.3.1 Cargo Run carrying update to Sea of Thieves today, and alongside it came the usual developer update video. In it, the game's executive producer Joe Neate revealed that the studio will be slowing down the update rollouts for the pirate adventure title.
As Neate explains in the video, the weekly updates were putting too much strain on the studio to keep pumping out, inadvertently introducing bugs due to not having enough time to test them, that would then need to be fixed in the next update. This also meant that for hours every week, the servers would be taken down to make sure even minor updates were being published.
Neate also says that weekly updates that arrived between major content drops and Bilge Rat Adventures didn't have enough meaningful content to warrant the server downtime.
Going forward, Sea of Thieves updates will only be held for major content expansions, Bilge Rat Adventures, needed quality of life changes, or fixing any major bugs that may have popped up. These updates will go through a much longer testing period than before as well, with the developer using the Pioneers - a group of players testing upcoming builds - in a larger scale to gather feedback.
The process for getting into the Pioneers group is also being looked at, where improvements are being made to let players know how exactly can they apply. Pioneers can also look forward to some in-game rewards in the future for helping Rare test out upcoming changes and features.
This change to the update rollouts sounds certainly like a step in the right direction. Recent updates to the game have continued to introduce new bugs, and there have also been plenty of release dates that had to be readjusted due to needing more development time. Forsaken Shores, for example, was delayed at the last minute, and when it did arrive, the Cargo Runs voyage was held back for two more weeks. Hopefully, the new approach will make the process a much more reliable and smoother one. Maybe Microsoft should be taking a leaf out of Rare's book as well.
Rare is currently working on the next Bilge Rat Adventure that will follow the Forsaken Shores campaign, but the aforementioned changes mean that we don't know for sure when will it be releasing. Named the Festival of the Damned, this adventure will be centered around the ghost pirate captain of the Ferry of the Damned, who guides players back to the world of the living.