Interview: KingsIsle talks Pirate101’s Steam launch, Sinbad Chapter 2, and the future of the game


KingsIsle’s Pirate101 is having a bit of a renaissance right now. The high seas-themed sibling MMO to the popular kids game Wizard101 has two big releases in store this spring: It’s finally launching on Steam on May 31st, and it’s been teasing a big content drop called Sinbad Chapter 2: The Iron Lotus, which certainly implies a return to form for KingsIsle.

Ahead of these releases, we chatted with the studio about what’s in The Iron Lotus, the next few years of content, the health of the playerbase, and how the game fits into the wider MGI ecosystem. Read on!

MassivelyOP: A couple of years ago, we were super concerned about Pirate101. It had basically stopped getting new content. It looked to be in maintenance mode. Players were agitating for help. And then KingsIsle was bought by MGI/Gamigo, and hope for Pirate101 was rekindled. Can you walk us through the steps KingsIsle has taken over the last two years to shore up the game and regain player confidence?

KingsIsle: Let the rekindling begin! We’ve been working to increase development and general support for Pirate101 for some time now. As you mentioned, with the acquisition by gamigo, new opportunities suddenly opened up. Planning out and developing updates is ongoing, continuing with the Sinbad Chapter 2: The Iron Lotus content update. The response by the community to all the pre-release teasers has been outstanding, and we expect that to continue by the time the update is launched soon!

Just two months ago, Pirate101 was literally hiring new devs to work on content, so clearly there’s ambition here beyond just Steam. What kind of content can players expect in the near and far future? How much is contingent on how big the Steam launch is?

Indeed! We are very excited about the new team members that have just come on board. The content they’ve cooked up begins with Sinbad Chapter 2: The Iron Lotus. In this content update, there is a new Dreadnaught to defeat, new dungeon and gauntlet with powerful new weapons to acquire, and two new companions, Sinbad and Albano, to help you along your journey.

Our medium-term goal (next 1-2 years) is to expand Pirate101 wider with more things to do – with new side systems, bringing popular quality of life and side systems over from Wizard101, and expanding on the events system. We also plan to continue the storyline in smaller, more frequent content drops. Finally, we are looking to make some much-needed backend changes – this is the stuff that will help us roll out content more efficiently in the future. Some of these may require us to bring back Test Realm as well.

Our long-term goals are pretty cool if we do say so ourselves. However, we need to succeed at the short and medium goals first. Hopefully you’ll have us back to talk about them when we get there. :)

Can you discuss what size and shape of playerbase Pirate101 has and is anticipated to have after the Steam launch? Does the Steam launch imply that Pirate101’s playerbase might be skewing a bit older than it used to?

The general Pirate101 playerbase has thousands of active players daily, and we anticipate that to grow significantly with the introduction on Steam. When both Wizard101 and Pirate101 were launched, the average player age was younger than it is today. We’ve seen kids growing up and graduating from college, sharing these games with their kids, and those kids then playing with their parents. We hope this cycle continues with new Steam players and can’t wait to welcome them as new Pirates to the Spiral!

And of course, we want to continue to support the community along the way with programs like Extra Credits, our new content creator program, events and tournaments like the annual Community Spiral Cup, and celebrating in-game with players during their own generated events.

Might a console or mobile port be in its future too? (We had a tease about both back in 2021, but it hasn’t happened yet!)

We are looking into expanding both Wizard101 and Pirate101 onto other platforms, but this is a huge process as you can imagine. There are currently no firm plans for either game to make this happen, but the consideration is ongoing. Nothing is off the table yet, so stay tuned!

Finally, we just got MGI’s investor report for last year, and in brief, the company has pivoted a lot of its business to advertising instead of building and maintaining games; it listed just a handful of games it’s focused on (including Wizard101), but Pirate101 wasn’t among them. Then again, Pirate101 hasn’t been jettisoned either, and it’s clearly getting love now. How does KingsIsle see Pirate101 fitting into MGI’s plans going forward?

While we can’t speak for MGI’s company priorities as a whole of course, we can speak for KingsIsle’s. With the acquisition, we were afforded the opportunity to resume developing for Pirate101, and we’re excited to give some love to the dedicated Pirates that have been with us for up to a decade or more. Also, with our Steam launch and ramped up marketing efforts supporting it, we have the opportunity to bring in new players to check out the game we all know and love. We’re excited for the future and hope everyone else is too!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, KingsIsle!

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