How streamers helped Sea of Thieves eclipse the 15 million player mark

Summit1g helped them find the treasure.

Screengrab via Sea of Thieves

Game studio Rare’s executive producer Joe Neate announced today that the company’s pirate-themed game Sea of Thieves surpassed the 15 million player mark after more than two years. 

The game, which came out in March 2018, has seen immense growth thanks largely to a second life it’s been given due to top content creators on Twitch giving the title some playing time.

In January, the game reached the 10 million player mark, suggesting that its player base has been growing at an impressive rate in 2020. Neate backed that assertion up today by saying the game’s 3.3 million active players in June this year was the most it’s ever seen.

“On behalf of all of us at Rare, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s ever played Sea of Thieves for helping to get us this far,” Neate said. “It’s a game that we love making, and there’s plenty more to come. See you on the seas.”

While Rare has been active in giving Sea of Thieves new content that can keep more players engaged, the game wouldn’t be where it is without some help from top Twitch personalities. 

After the game was released in 2018, there were numerous content creators who gave it a try. But the game’s popularity among influencers didn’t stick right away. It wasn’t until Summit1g started to play the game at the end of November that the title truly started to turn some heads.

While the game had no star power on Twitch for most of the year, Summit1g made Sea of Thieves a way for viewers to escape the onslaught of Fortnite streams that were so prevalent at the time. With 5.4 million hours watched in December 2018, Summit planted a seed in Sea of Thieves that helped the game grow.

Early in 2019, content creators like TimTheTatman and Dr Disrespect took a shot at Sea of Thieves content after seeing the fun Summit was having by doing something that was a little bit different. Since that point, the game hasn’t been consistently one of the top forms of content on Twitch. But every once in a while, it’ll get some attention here and there from top influencers. 

Even now, the game is one of Summit’s most-played titles in the past 180 days, according to Twitch statistics website SullyGnome. With 303 hours played, Sea of Thieves is second only to Escape from Tarkov in the past 180 days for Summit.

Despite the insane popularity of VALORANT and viewership records that it gave Summit1g, he stopped playing the game just a couple of weeks into its closed beta and instead moved to playing Sea of Thieves and Grand Theft Auto. With an average of 24,921 viewers playing the game, Summit’s reach of 6,579,097 viewers playing the title is perhaps some of the best promotion that Rare could want for the game. 

Meanwhile, recent streams by Bralizian CS:GO player Gaules have furthered the game’s reach. In the past month, Gaules has streamed Sea of Thieves for 114 hours, averaging 14,993 viewers.

Though Summit and Gaules both come from a CS:GO background, Gaules’ more international appeal as a Brazilian gamer, along with the 2,594,169 unique views his channel has gotten on the game, could be another reason for the game’s influx of players.

Sea of Thieves is by no means going to compete to be the most-played game in the industry or most-watched content on Twitch. But examining the game’s growth over the course of the past two years just shows the value the top content creators can have.

Rare’s pirate-themed game never had the type of clout that games made by Riot or Blizzard come into the scene with. But all it takes is a good personality with a reliable base audience to give a game a boost.

As publishers brainstorm how to promote their games, it’s important to look at the type of impact the right content creator can have on a title’s reach. By grabbing the attention of the industry’s influencers, a publisher can amplify a game’s reach in ways that it might not be able to otherwise.