Rare and streamers tussle over Sea of Thieves community toxicity

    
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The wild and untamed waters of Sea of Thieves’ Caribbean are a little more choppy as of late — and not because of pirate vessels sailing through them. The game is currently in a bit of an uproar as developer Rare and prominent streamers are butting heads over the issue of toxicity.

Despite the studio pledging this past August to fight toxic behavior in Sea of Thieves’ community, it doesn’t seem to have improved the situation. In fact, a handful of prominent streamers publicly quit the game’s scene, accusing Rare of turning a blind eye to harassment and hate speech among other streamers and players.

The powder keg that really set off this current situation came when a streamer couple was harassed and left Sea of Thieves after letting Rare have it in a long letter. Other streamers have stopped covering the game in support of the couple, which prompted the studio to up and kick them out of the content creator partner program.

And just in case that you had any sympathy left for Rare, Kotaku also reports that current and former Rare devs are being pressured to shut their mouths about the situation on the threat of losing their jobs or being blacklisted.

Source: Kotaku, GamesIndustry. Thanks Tom!
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flashbak71

There are a number of issues. First, there are multiple angles to the story and Kotaku, as befitting the sort of source it has become, chose only one side. Second, Kotaku used one person’s real name that was accused while hiding everyone else’s identities without permission of the individual, and without seeking the individual for comment, essentially doxxing them. You have perpetuated this doxxing by linking to the non-article.

Next comes the major issue. The “couple” that complained, that wrote the twitlonger message, are some of the single most toxic people that played the game. They directly violate the Terms of Service to change the nature of the game, and when the issue was dealt with “on the seas” they complain to Rare. Essentially, for those who do not understand, they were cheating and when they got beat while cheating they cried to teacher. Furthermore, they dragged in an issue from over two years ago specifically to drag in the biggest named streamer they could. Essentially, again for those slow on the uptake, their twitch sucks and wasn’t growing, so now they are trying to build their own reputation by fraudulently destroying others.

The individual that they had the issue with that was supposedly ableist, sexist, racist, etc has neither streamed nor has played Sea of Thieves since the incident occurred. But these individuals want everyone (much larger streamers than they are combined) removed from their occupations.

This article is adding fuel to a fake fire and you should be ashamed of yourself for not doing any additional investigation. If you are a journalist you should take the extra step, otherwise you are nothing but a gossip peddler.

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Jeremy Barnes

As someone who has no idea who any of these people are…your tone and tenor don’t exactly win me to your cause.

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flashbak71

Fair point. Thank you.

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William English

The issue is that Rare made a super cute PIRATE game. ‘Toxicity’ is a term that soft people use to describe what it feels like for their weak emotional threshold when it is challenged. In reality, they would not have a made a good pirate and should just bounce…but instead they linger, perpetuating false ideas about community in a pirate realm. Pirates would not have been coddled or censored, but then again, Rare made cute cats and dogs so it feels like it should be “cute.” It is not. It is a pirare game where the accomplishments are more exciting bc of the potential for grief. Too many people cry when things are not perfect and should really learn to toughen up a bit. Why should Rare give a flying fuck that someone’s feelings were hurt in their content-less pirate game? Well, there’s content, but nothing to do with the fake wealth…but then again, pirates don’t care about what to buy…they just want more booty…which leads us back to where we started”QUIT WHINING” ITS A PIRATE GAME…conflict and hurt feelings are superbly innnevitable…now have a nice day!

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Tanek

So harassment is just realism. Feature, not a bug. Got it.

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Schlag Sweetleaf
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Sorenthaz

Imagine me speaking with a loud megaphone: THIS WAS BOUND TO HAPPEN

When the game revolves around free-for-all, zero consequence PvP with PvE content thrown in to bait/fatten up the sheep, guess what happens? It creates a toxic atmosphere over time because the PvP diehards are the primary ones who’ll stick around in the long term.

Streamer communities are built up around PvP as a result, and that’s a very no-brain breeding ground for additional toxicity. As folks see their favorite streamer doing shenanigans with PvP, it encourages them to behave similarly.

I can’t pretend to be surprised nor can I feel bad for Rare in this situation: this is literally a dilemma of their own making. They refuse to give folks a way to play without PvP as an ever-looming threat unless they go through extreme measures (Alliance server discord groups). They steadily added more incentives to PvP as well as risk-reward bait for PvE. They have super duper slowly been opening up to the idea of private servers but, again – it’s been really effing slow. It’s been like a year since they announced they were looking into private server options when this should’ve been a first anniversary feature.

Hubris and a refusal to listen to all the warnings/examples from past games is what brought them to this point. Sea of Thieves simply isn’t going to be able to change its toxic atmosphere without giving folks a way to create/control their own environments. Otherwise it’s just going to keep devolving more and more into a PvP game first and foremost with the most competitive/aggressive individuals being the heads of the community.

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laelgon

The content creator community for Sea of Thieves is real bad. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of playing with a few streamers (don’t mention it in their LFG posts) and every time they’ve been the absolute worse. It’s a fun game, but this huge chunk of the community is a real bummer. I’m all for some fun cartoon piracy PvP, but people take it way too far because being a shithead on the internet resonates real well with teenagers and people with the mental maturity of teenagers.

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Bruno Brito

And just in case that you had any sympathy left for Rare, Kotaku also reports that current and former Rare devs are being pressured to shut their mouths about the situation on the threat of losing their jobs or being blacklisted.

Ah yes, another company to the list “i’ll watch with glee as your garbage legacy crashes and burns around you”.

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Greaterdivinity

Man, this sure isn’t the Rare I remember. I don’t think I like this Rare at all.

I hope something is done about the harassment, but based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere I’m not optimistic that Rare’s gonna do anything about it.

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Arktouros

What would you suggest they do about it? The complaints as I understood them were…

Another streamer wouldn’t address the puppet (Rocco) and instead were addressing the people behind the puppet when discussing them.

Other people were sending them hate messages in game with a person’s name. Should they do something about you if I start harassing people in games and told them Greaterdivinity sends their regards?

She disliked the language people were using at an event where one team was calling people “nonplayers” and “fucking idiots” and the like. Again nothing against the rules even if some people find it distasteful.

So the person that they’re complaining about hasn’t broken any rules but because another person in the community calls them toxic and is upset they’re complaining loudly about them and wants Rare to do something about the person specifically. They even stated they submitted proof of all the harassment and Rare took action against the people actually involved and who did the harassment. However again this wasn’t good enough, they wanted the other streamer to also be held accountable despite not having broken any actual rules.

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Tanek

Since the streamer in question was in the Partner Program, whether or not rules were broken depends on what “established streamers who embody the spirit of Sea of Thieves” means.

If Rare wants the spirit of the game to be the kind of thing this streamer was doing (I don’t really see where the harassment messages tagged with the streamer’s name are a central focus of the issue when much of it can be tied directly to players working with the streamer on a team), then I guess that’s that.

If they are serious about the Partner Program being a welcoming space, then they should maybe look at doing more than “just don’t talk about problems or we’ll punish you”.

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Arktouros

Welcome space isn’t carte blanche to say, “I don’t like this person and their community and how they act therefore they should be removed and if they aren’t then I’m going to make a big stink about it.”

The problem was they wouldn’t stop talking about the problems even after Rare concluded the matter as done. They reported the people who actually harassed them and those people got banned. They talked about the problems, and problems were resolved. That wasn’t good enough and they kept trying to go after the Streamer as well that those problems were associated with.

So this idea that you can’t talk about problems without being removed isn’t really there. It’s more like you can’t rail against a particular community or streamer based community and try to get the company to against them even if they aren’t breaking the rules. That typically isn’t allowed in any setting generally.

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Arktouros

File this one under the big ol’ folder of culture clash.

It’s easy to blame those single people for the actions of their community but the streamers rarely have any kind of direct influence over the people they are streaming to. I’ve never seen a streamer command anyone to go harass someone because it’s honestly against the rules and would cost them their livelihood. More importantly they aren’t blind followers who listen to every command and even if they tell people not to be douchebags it doesn’t stop idiots from being douchebags.

The people actually doing the harassing and sending horrible things should be banned, of course. They probably were as well. But reading through that big old recap that didn’t sound good enough for them and they pressed the topic more until the other called them out publicly in the partner discord and it became a whole thing.

The “shock jock” or “toxic” persona is an extremely popular one as much as people bristle at the notion of it. Even if you don’t like people who call others “fucking idiots” or “normies” and other such behavior it’s not against the rules on twitch or even in game most cases. There are lines that can’t be crossed and we’ve seen numerous examples of people who have crossed them who get slapped and numerous others where they cross the line and quickly come back and nothing happens. However entertainers in all fields have always spent a tremendous amount of time snuggling up against that line.

That’s showbiz, baby *fingerguns*

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Ironwu

Rare staff meeting:

“Hey, I have a GREAT idea! Let’s move the whole concept of PvP into the real world!”

“Great idea! We can start by PvPing our critics and showing them how to PWN in the real world!”

“What could go wrong? Everyone loves PVP, so lets make it real!”

“Let’s get started! This will be so much fun!”

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TomTurtle

I knew the PvP in that game welcomed the usual excuses for poor behavior, but this was certainly eye opening in how bad the developers let it get. Harassment to that level is not okay, and Rare should absolutely do something about it rather than passing it off to the players to deal with.