Update: Joe Neate has reached out to Stevivor to further clarify his original statement.
“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,” Neate told Stevivor.
“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: Sea of Thieves has been iterated so many times by developer Rare that the title can circumvent the traditional Microsoft certification process ahead of its proper release.
“The submissions process — normally that’s a time-consuming period,” Rare’s Joe Neate told Stevivor at PAX AUS. “[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.”
Neate understood the ramifications of the arrangement, laughingly adding, “this will be amazing if it goes wrong.”
Jokes aside, the continual process of a weekly, playable version of the game has made Rare fearless.
“We release a new version of the game every week and we’ve built that muscle over the last 18 months,” Neate continued. “We’ve done more content updates than pretty much any game in the Xbox portfolio, and we’re not out yet.
“[This is] a complete change in culture from a single point in time release; this is continuous delivery. Our bug count is always under a hundred; on most games, you’re in the multiple thousands as you approach release.
“Basically, the launch of the game will be just another release. We’ve got confidence in our process.”
There has to be an endpoint to the process; Neate confirmed that Rare will stop adding to Sea of Thieves a week before its proper release date. That said, a three-day window was first suggested before that.