Microsoft Is Allowing Sea of Thieves to Bypass Traditional Certification

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Update: Rare reached out to clarify the details of Sea of Thieves' certification process.

"As a service-based game designed to be updated incrementally throughout development, 'Sea of Thieves' is part of Adaptive Certification Updates, a trust-based program open to all development partners," said Joe Neate, executive producer at Rare. "As such, we work closely with the Microsoft Studios certification team to quickly add new content and features to 'Sea of Thieves' on a continuous basis, while ensuring the quality of the game consistently meets standard certification guidelines."

Original story below:

Sea of Thieves has developed such a high level of trust with Microsoft that they’re able to bypass the traditional certification process Microsoft has in place.

Microsoft takes their certification measures for Xbox games pretty seriously, a process that involves rigorous testing and retesting to make sure everything works well and doesn’t break anything within the game or on Microsoft’s end. But speaking to Stevivor during PAX AUS, Sea of Thieves developer Rare said that they won’t have to undergo the same process.

“The submissions process — normally that’s a time-consuming period,” said Joe Neate, Rare’s executive producer for Sea of Thieves. “[Normally] Xbox would test it and make sure it all works. Our release of the game… will not be tested by Xbox because we’ve released the game so many times and we’ve not had any issues.”

Since they’ve been working on Sea of Thieves, Rare has been releasing new versions of the game every week for playtesters to examine. They’ve been doing so for quite some time with Neate claiming that they might’ve released enough content updates to rival any other Xbox game.

“We release a new version of the game every week and we’ve built that muscle over the last 18 months,” Neate said. “We’ve done more content updates than pretty much any game in the Xbox portfolio, and we’re not out yet.

Not having to have their game vetted at the very end before its release is no doubt a welcome perk, but it does come with one obvious downside. Without Microsoft checking the final iteration of the game for any issues, the responsibility for anything that accidently goes unfixed or is otherwise broken is squarely on Rare’s shoulders. This could be said for any game, but with the developers receiving special treatment due to their diligence, anything that doesn’t work out could make Microsoft rethink the trusting process for later games.

Neate added that they’ll stop adding new content into the game a week before it’s released to make sure everything is working properly, but when that’ll be remains to be seen since the game doesn’t yet have a release date aside from sometime in 2018.