Xbox's 'Sea of Thieves' dominates PlayStation's sales charts in North America and Europe

 Promotional screenshot of Sea of Thieves.
Credit: Xbox Game Studios

What you need to know

  • Sales charts shared by Sony PlayStation have given us a glimpse at Microsoft's success on the platform.

  • Sea of Thieves launched on PlayStation a few weeks ago, and has seen it dominate the charts in both North America and Europe, taking the top spot.

  • Microsoft also had high chart positions for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Grounded, Fallout 4, and Minecraft.

  • On PlayStation 4, Minecraft topped the chart, most likely as past-gen remains the primary platform for many millions of youngsters.

Recently, Sony posted an update on its blog detailing the latest round of charts success for games launching on PlayStation.

Microsoft courted controversy earlier this year when it announced that it will start bringing some of its Xbox games to PlayStation. Xbox CEO Phil Spencer reiterated the plan in an interview with IGN recently too, saying that Xbox players should expect to see more games go across. This was hot on the heels of a spectacular Xbox Showcase that did feature a lot of Xbox exclusives, but the recent success of Sea of Thieves only increases the likelihood of more games flipping over to the blue side.

On the charts for May 2024, Sea of Thieves enjoyed a comfortable pole position on PlayStation 5, across both North America and Europe. Rare studio director Craig Duncan thanked the team at Rare as well as the overall community, reacting to the news.

Sea of Thieves is an oceanic open world sandbox adventure game, focused around multiplayer. The developers have added a "safer seas" mode to accommodate those who don't fancy its chaotic multiplayer systems, in addition to a vast wealth of story-based content over the past few years.

The latest Sea of Thieves update added throwing knives and double barrel pistols, among other new features. And at the Xbox Games Showcase 2024, Rare revealed Season 13, which allows players to "become a boss fight" and seize control over a powerful ship.

Microsoft found a variety of success on the PlayStation charts elsewhere, too. Minecraft topped the chart on PlayStation 4, as the console likely remains the primary platform for many millions of youngsters who only fancy playing a few service type games. In addition, Grounded, Fallout 4, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 also held potent positions too, arguably solidifying Microsoft's place as the biggest game publisher of the month on the platform. Newcomers like Killer Clowns from Outer Space and Another's Crab's Treasure also found some success, while long-time chart staples like NBA 2K and Grand Theft Auto V stayed in the mix.

A glimpse at Xbox's (and PlayStation's) future

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Xbox All Digital Series X and new series S variant coming Holiday 2024.

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Microsoft's platform agnosticity of late has been tough to swallow for some Xbox fans, myself included. Why buy an Xbox if it has no exclusive games? In reality, it could turn out that most people don't care. The vast majority of play time hours in recent times go towards games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft, which simply live forever and become the game of choice year in, year out, for millions of people. The idea of "exclusive" one-shots that take 3-4 years to make is becoming increasingly hard to justify for some big platform holders, as playtime hours decrease, and inflation eats into profit margins. Indeed, when adjusted for inflation, the game industry has shrunk by a non-trivial amount over the past few quarters.

So, how to grow if the game industry is squeezed? The obvious answer is putting your games where people are. Exclusive games are an arbitrary restriction, in essence, since there's no real reason games like Sea of Thieves can't run on PlayStation once the relatively trivial amount of porting work has been done. Sony would make an enormous amount of money if it put Helldivers 2 on Xbox, the only thing really stopping them is corporate ego. People would hardly choose Xbox over PlayStation for a single game. The rewards would speak for itself.

Still, it would only be a single game — a question of balance is hard to ignore. On the Xbox side, the fear is always that if more and more games go to PlayStation, that people will want Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S consoles less and less. With decreased audience, this could eventually include developers, leading to decreased support. There's no evidence that is happening today, but Microsoft isn't always the best at leaning into trends and navigating the future carefully. Just look at the Windows Recall debacle for evidence of that.

It'll be interesting to see where it all goes.