Pirates of the Burning Sea goes Free To Play

Ahoy!! It has been a while since I last sailed the Burning Sea, but I popped in today to see how things are coming along. I could certainly use some Caribbean sun after the snowy week we’ve had in the UK.

Pirates Of The Burning Sea Port Royal 550x326

Of all the Arkenors in all the worlds, POTBS Arkenor is the best dressed.

Yesterday, Pirates of the Burning Sea became Free To Play. The set up is similar to other games which have travelled the same path from being subscription only to a hybrid model. Let us take a look:

Free Account

Premium Account

Captain’s Club



FREE after one month of Captain’s Club membership
Former subscribers free

$14.99 / month

Character Slots per nation

2 – Can purchase more



Dockyard Slots per character

2 – Can purchase more



Ship Storage slots per character

0 – Can purchase more



Economy slots per account

2 – Can purchase more



Item discount at the Treasure Aisle

No discount

No discount

20% discount

Ship Insurance

No ship insurance unless purchased at the Treasure Aisle

Automatic ship insurance

Automatic ship insurance

Society Creation

Requires purchase of a Society Charter from the Treasure Aisle

Requires purchase of a Society Charter from the Treasure Aisle

Societies can be created without a charter (requires doubloons).

Premium Mission access

Missions are available for purchase at the Treasure Aisle

Missions are available for purchase at the Treasure Aisle

Automatic access to premium mission content including the Besieged Tortuga epic missions

Experience gain bonus

No Bonus

No Bonus

10% bonus

Loot chance bonus

No Bonus

No Bonus

10% bonus

Faction bonus

No Bonus

No Bonus

10% bonus

As an ex-subscriber I fall in to the Premium account category. Honestly though, after playing for a couple of hours it does not feel any different to when I was a subscriber. I pretty much have access to everything except for some top-end missions, but I still have plenty to do. It is just about the most generous “Premium” account that I have seen so far, so much so that my concern would be that many subscribers might decide they would be better off dropping down to Premium themselves. Having said that, many subscribers are getting their subscriptions from a Station Access sub which covers all SOE games, rather than subbing to PotBS directly.

In a manner similar to EVE’s PLEX, POTBS allows you to buy “Burning Sea Notes”, which can be sold to other players for in-game currency. Each Burning Sea Note is convertible into 300 Burning Sea Points, and it’s $5 for two, or $20 for 9. You can also buy them with Station Cash, which is good for me as I have quite a lot of Station Cash laying about that I got for free from promotions in other SOE games. 100 Station Cash are equivalent to one US dollar.

The store, the “Treasure Aisle”, contains the usual cosmetic gear that we expect these days, along with a selection of consumables. Some of these are easily crafted in game, but some, such as the Bonus Experience or Loot books are only obtainable from the Treasure Aisle. You can survive without such things, unless you’re in a terrible hurry.

Much more interesting to me are the new Commissioned Officers. This is a consumable that will summon an ally to your side, in either ship or ground combat. I think these are only obtainable from the shop, unfortunately, though I guess a free player can still acquire the necessary points by buying Burning Sea Notes with doubloons.

You can also buy ships, and *shudder* permanent outfitting items. I’m not so happy about that, as it could impact the rather excellent crafting economy system PotBS has. Hopefully the price the shop is charging for them with be such that most people will still prefer to buy in-game. I used to do quite good business selling outfitting (equipment for your ship), which is normally lost when a vessel sinks, so the permanent ones might really cause some problems there.

Update: I’ve been told that the outfitting items that can be bought from the Treasure Aisle are not of as high a quality as the best that crafters can make, which goes some way to allay my concerns. It also appears (after I received a Novice Ship Bundle from an early quest) that when the Ship Bundle description talked about Permanent ship fittings, it meant that you could not remove them after fitting them to your ship (just like ordinary ship fittings), rather than that they would not be lost when your ship sinks. If that’s the case then they should probably make that description a little more obvious before anyone else misinterprets it and gets upset when they lose them.

At any rate, if they work how I now think they do, I’m no longer concerned about them messing up the economy.

Pirates Of The Burning Sea Treasure Aisle Ship Bundle 550x495

PotBS Treasure Aisle's Ship Bundle Description

While I’m not fond of point shops, something had to be done if Pirates of the Burning Sea was going to keep its head above water. I am truly hoping that the move to F2P brings Pirates of the Burning Sea the success it deserves.

If you never played PotBS, especially if you enjoy sailing games like Sid Meier’s Pirates, you should give this new incarnation a try. That’s a personal recommendation! With no subscription required, it’s going to be easy to drop in whenever we feel like a bit of nautical adventure, not to mention that I now have another MMO I can afford to cover! The Yuletide events have just begun, so you never know who you might meet!

Pirates Of The Burning Sea Father Christmas In Port Royal 550x378

It's just a man in a Father Christmas costume. Or is it???

Pirates of the Burning Sea has always made incredibly good use of sound and music. You can while away the time quite easily by wandering about listening to the various musicians that are scattered around the world. The Christmas mission I just did, “A Penny to Bury the Wren”, quite literally brought a tear to my eye through its use of music and the way it really hit all the right Dickensian Christmas notes. It was a great little experience (and educational), and did not require me to kill anyone, which is actually quite unusual for Christmas events in MMO.

Pirates of the Burning Sea patch notes for the F2P release, build, are after the leap.


This build introduces Treasure Aisle, our new RMT store that allows you to buy all sorts of things, including pets, ships, buffs, clothes, for Burning Sea Points. Burning Sea Points are created by trading in Burning Sea Notes, which you can purchase in Treasure Aisle for real world money, or in trades from other players.

Access Treasure Aisle by clicking the first button on the left in your toolbar or pressing T. See below for more details on how this works and what you can buy.

Subscribers are now Captain’s Club members. Previously subscribed accounts should be treated as Premium accounts. Trial accounts should be treated as Free to Play accounts. See this chart for more details.

We’ve also revamped our starter missions. This is part of our on-going effort to make the game more accessible to new players. See below for details

This build also contains our holiday content in preparation for the holiday season. Enjoy!

Known Issues:

* Vigilante Justice: Pirate players get told to go to Jenny Bay as if they were Brit but the man you’re looking for is closer than that – check your map. This will be fixed in 2.2.
* The Bigger They Are: One of our testers managed to get himself trapped in this mission. However, we haven’t been able to repro. If this happens to you, defeat all the enemy ships and you should be able to get out.
* There’s a bug in the tax calculations for running recipes that results in a different amount going into the Treasury than was removed from the player sometimes. This is fixed in the next major build.

Differences between and include but aren’t limited to:

Treasure Aisle:

* You can enter Treasure Aisle via a button on the toolbar or by pressing T. Because the data for the shop is stored on the server, you might get a Loading… message the first time you enter during a game session but the shop should quickly load and enable you to purchase in-game items.
* A Burning Sea Note is worth 300 Burning Sea Points. If you have insufficient points to buy an item, Notes will be converted to points. If you have insufficient Notes, you’ll be prompted to buy some.
* Burning Sea Notes are tradable. You can give them to your friends or sell them in the auction house.
* Captain’s Club members receive a 20% discount on points purchases made in Treasure Aisle.
* Captain’s Club members receive a 10% XP bonus, 10% additional loot chance, and 10% faction bonus when playing while subscribed.
* Captain’s Club members have 5 Dockyard slots. Free Accounts have two Dockyard slots but can purchase more from Treasure Aisle and own up to 5.
* Captain’s Club members have access to 100 Ship Storage slots in their nation’s capital. Free Accounts have none but can purchase them from Treasure Aisle& and own up to 100.
* You can buy Evasion items from Treasure Aisle. Purchase and use these items to increase your speed and stealth on the Open Sea for a period of time.
* You can buy Lieutenant Commissions from Treasure Aisle. These are NPC allies you can summon in PvE combat (ship or swashbuckling combat but not boarding combat). You can summon one at a time in an encounter and they do not follow you between encounters. If one dies, you can summon another. They cannot be used in ad hocs until the end of the reinforcement timer and not at all if another player joins the fight. They also cannot be used in Port Battles, Besieged Tortuga, Skirmishes, or Duels.
* A Map Case is available for purchase at Treasure Aisle. It (randomly) grants one of the new Treasure Hunt missions: The Sleepwalkers, Money for Nothing, Hundred Acre Bay, Guardian of Secrets, The Last Confession of Sebastien Tartre, Claiming What’s Yours, or Empty Nest.
* Captain’s Club members can play through the entire Black Flags and Dread Saints story line. Free Accounts can play Chapters 1-5 for free but access to the final chapter of that critically acclaimed epic mission arc is available for purchase from Treasure Aisle.
* Captain’s Club members have 10 economy slots. Free Accounts have only two econ slots but can purchase more from Treasure Aisle and own up to 10.
* Using Warehouse Vouchers, available for purchase from Treasure Aisle, you can pay cash instead of doubloons to create a warehouse.
* Captain’s Club members receive insurance when a ship is sunk. Free Accounts receive insurance when a ship is sunk only if purchased in advance.
* Captain’s Club members can create societies by visiting the Society Registrar in their starter town or nation’s capital and paying 1000 doubloons. Free Accounts need to buy a Society Charter from Treasure Aisle (and give that plus 1000 doubloons to the Society Registrar) in order to create a society.
* Bonus Faction books are available in Treasure Aisle. Buying and using one of these will, for a period of time, increase the faction you receive from normal faction-changing activities such as missions. If you are a Captain’s Club member, this stacks with the bonus you already have. Multiple Bonus Faction Books cannot be used at the same time.
* Bonus Doubloon books are available in Treasure Aisle. Buying and using one of these will, for a period of time, increase the doubloons you receive from sinking NPCs in the Open Sea.
* Bonus Experience books are available in Treasure Aisle. Buying and using one of these will, for a period of time, increase the XP you receive from normal XP-granting activities such as missions or sinking certain ships. If you are a Captain’s Club member, this stacks with the bonus you already have. Multiple Bonus Experience Books cannot be used at the same time.
* Bonus Loot books are available in Treasure Aisle. Buying and using one of these will, for a period of time, increase the loot you receive from normal loot-generating activities such as sinking NPCs. If you are a Captain’s Club member, this stacks with the bonus you already have. Multiple Bonus Loot Books cannot be used at the same time.
* Ship bundles for each size ship, containing three permanent outfitting, two repairs, and gunpowder are available for purchase from Treasure Aisle.
* You can purchase luxury clothing and clothing never before available in the game from Treasure Aisle. The Luxury Clothing Tailor has been removed from the capital ports as all his wares are now available only through Treasure Aisle.
* You can buy pets from Treasure Aisle. If you already own the pet, it won’t be offered to you in the shop. Along with shoulder pets such as parrots and rats, you can also purchase follow-pets such as dogs and monkeys. Chickens make surprisingly well-trained companions as it turns out. :) You can have one shoulder pet and/or one follow-pet with you at any time. Also, once you have your pet, try /petsit and /petspin. (Squeeee!)
* We’ve added holiday pets and other items to Treasure Aisle for a limited time only. Enjoy!
* Right-clicking on pets, clothing items, and Lt. Commissions in Treasure Aisle with give you a preview of the item so you know what you’re getting before you buy it.

Ship Outfitting:

* Fixed an exploit that had to do with ship outfitting.

Ship Combat / Skills:

* The way we were doing forced respecs was a bit confusing. I logged into P&P for the first time and was told I’d been refunded X captain skills and 0 swashbuckling skills and X swashbuckling skills and 0 captain skills. Wha? We’ve clarified it a bit so it should be less confusing now.
* Fixed the bug that caused NPCs to sit there and raise/lower their sails repeatedly when you came out of boarding combat in a mission.
* Expert Repairs (Freetrader): The repair part of the skill lasted 45 seconds but the Armor & Mast Damage Reduction only lasted 30 seconds. Now it all lasts 45 seconds.
* “Storm” affected grappling offense but we told you it affected grappling defense. Now it affects defense as it should.
* Give the Slip (Freetrader): Clarified the tooltip.
* Dump Guns (Cutthroat & Freetrader): Clarified the tooltip.
* We added duration information to the tooltips for Determination (Freetrader) and Scrapper (Buccaneer and Privateer).
* Tooltips for Expert Consumables referred to obsolete skills. Fixed.


* We’ve added to Preferences an option for you to auto-face your target. We tried this in P&P Beta and it got mixed reviews. However, it might be handy for folks who suffer network lag so we offer you the option.
* Ballestra Lunge (Fencing): Now works even if the target isn’t Weakened, as it should.
* Mastercraft Brass Knuckles cost Royal Encomiums which no longer exist in the game. Fixed. Now they cost Royal Commendations.


* If you entered a mission from the Open Sea and died with ship dura remaining, we sent you to your nation’s capital. Now we put you in a town roughly where you started.
* Port Captains were still claiming to be able to change your mission difficulty level. Fixed.
* Swampcats Bounty Missions: Weren’t available to the French in Grenville. Fixed.
* Many of the first missions for new players were just like the last mission you did only different. We’ve removed several of the missions we call “standard encounter” missions and you call “cookie cutter” missions. We’ve improved the tutorials, teaching about several aspects of the game never before explained to beginners and added some unique (read: “more fun!”) content.
* Added some training on crew focus skills to the tutorial.
* Boarding Tutorial: To Boarder’s Bay! (Spanish version): The Urbane Acrobats were French. Now they are Spanish as they should be.
* Man of Wealth and Taste: Using the exit button (instead of the door) landed you at the Coxswain (instead of the door) which was wonky. Fixed. We also fixed a bug whereby defeating the last ship while sitting on the exit point will cause the exit point to not be revealed. And we repositioned the fire a bit to make it look better.
* Claim Prize Tutorial: In order to complete this, you had to sail to your nation’s capital which is likely in the red. Instead, it’s explained how to exchange commendations but you don’t actually have to do that in order to complete the mission.
* Fate is Sealed: The NPCs were behaving strangely – attacking without being provoked and such. Now they’re only aggressive when they should be.
* Get Well Soon: You can no longer walk through the well.
* Sharktooth Menace: The exit button didn’t flash when you successfully completed the mission. Fixed.
* The Truth of Things: It was possible to skip a fight and miss some key storyline. Fixed.
* Join or Die: One of the fights was a bit difficult for first-time players. Tuned it down a bit. Also clarified a confusing encounter objective.
* The Undercover Man: After completing the mission, the Brethren Liaison still gave advice for how to complete the mission. He’s more up to speed now.
* Black Heart, Black Powder and other missions: Mousing over the Longboat caused some wonkiness. Fixed.
* Deals Within Wheels (French version): You were directed to Campeche when you really needed to go to Grenville. Fixed.
* A Riot is an Ugly Thing: The location of the jail wasn’t shown on the map. Fixed.
* Masts for Mayhem: You can no longer walk through the tree.
* Bey’s Retreat: Some swashbuckling portions were too easy. Fixed by increasing the health, guard, and guard recovery of all the mooks in Bey’s Retreat. Dez and Irena’s stats were increased as well.
* Local Commerce: Ironsides were supposed to receive more intensity from embolden prompts than they were. Fixed.
* Loot Drop: This mission shouldn’t have been groupable. Fixed.
* Death Rattle: Using AOE attacks in the vicinity of Captain Hassan could fail the mission. That seems a bit harsh. Fixed.
* Sleep Tight: Fixed a minor exploit. You can no longer leave and return while in combat.
* Montague’s Special Reserve: You were directed to the shop when you needed to go to the warehouse. Fixed.
* The Swan: Told you to return to the surface. After you were already on the surface. Now it more helpfully points you at Jeannet Denot.
* Fore-Gun Conclusion: Summoning allies in the first part of this mission would be a waste of money at best and cause problems for you at worst. So we now prevent you from summoning allies in that part of the mission.
* For King and Country: There were some confusing encounter objectives. Added some clarifying text.
* Hold the Line: Fixed it so you can’t so easily spawn camp anymore.
* Duplicitous Evil: You had to choose a reward from a list of one item. Now you don’t have to choose – you just get the reward.
* Fortaleza da Luz: Fixed a bug that caused you to lose your Spirit Trap and be unable to get it back if you exited the mission at the wrong time.
* Keeper of the Crossroads: This mission claimed to take place in Gyasi’s shack but didn’t. The destination is more accurate now.
* The Show Must Go On: Added some sounds where they were missing.
* Uncivil War: Grounded a floating fort.
* Daniel Lianor Pires, a Lieutenant Commission, becomes available to you when you complete Old Money.
* Gaou Guinou, a Lieutenant Commission, now becomes available to you after Sovereign of the Seas.
* By the Sword: Tireless Batab fought alone in boarding combat. Now he has crew to fight by his side as he should.
* Fixed a minor exploit with Treasure Hunt missions.
* Zoe Franche was sometimes walking around with a treasure chest on her head. Fixed.
* Hazel Thatcher was offering a mission during another mission. Fixed.
* Fixed or improved destination strings in a number of missions. Some said “a mission” in the compass when they should have given better info. Some said “Return to John Doe” without giving any hint where to find that person. There are still missions with these issues, but fewer than before. :)
* We had previously made it so a number of missions would no longer force you to still sail to the escape point (or guide an ally to an escape point) if all enemies were defeated. However, we missed a few in that first pass. This build includes more.


* In some instances, there was a problem running a recipe the maximum number of times. If you tried to run one less than the max, no problem. Fixed now.
* Fees for extending auction listings were not going into the Port Treasury. Fixed.
* Fixed a bug that caused tax rate changes by Governors to not always be recognized.
* It’s no longer possible for the governor of an unconquerable port to change tax rates. That made no sense anyway.
* We now notify you of the doubloon cost when you, as governor, change the tax rate in your port.
* Added Artemis’ Cannon Modification 2 to the Advanced General Outfitting recipe book.

PvP / Port Contention:

* Open Bidding now lasts 30 hours so Closed Bidding should occur closer to the population peak on each server. It will still happen pretty much the same time every time but it should be a more convenient time for more people.
* It was possible to be elected governor of a port in the raided state, although you shouldn’t be able to. Fixed.
* If you were governor of a raided port when the cease fire ended, you were ousted even if the port didn’t change hands at that time. Fixed.
* Elections were being cancelled at the beginning of the cease fire. Also, it was possible to start an election during server victory. Elections are now cancelled at server victory, not the start of the cease fire.
* Governors could reduce unrest on a port after the port battle was scheduled. We’ve decided to disallow that behavior.
* Increased from 20 to 45 the level you must be to exchange Citations of Conquest for Marks of Trade or Marks of Victory.

Art / Sound:

* Tweaked walk a touch. We did this because pets were acting funny when they spawned. We feel we have more work to do on the pets but people should still look OK. :)
* We’ve added animations for /absent, /blush, /hymn, /wink, /whistle, /hail, /dawn, /poke, /egyptian, and /ahoy. Check ‘em out!
* Fixed a bug that could cause your character to stop fidgeting. Left idle long enough, your character should look around, cross arms perhaps, maybe tap foot.
* Port Royal: Improved the lighting.
* San Juan: You had to use X to talk to Garcia Tinoco in the church. Now you can also click on him if you’d rather.
* Added an acid burn particle effect for when Royal Society members throw acid.
* Made some improvements to belching.
* Added a particle effect to spit.
* Improved particle effects for treasure hunting.
* Puerto del Principe: Approaching the church, you could hear organ music. However, it stopped when you entered. Now the organ music is better positioned outside the church and can be heard inside the church also.
* Fixed quite a few sound issues with NPC conversations and other lively in a variety of towns.


* Replaced an unattractive Loading… screen with a nicer one.
* Infoservices now have a new icon more appropriate to the situation than a boat.
* Characters created after we launched Power & Prestige did not receive the Governor’s title when elected. When this build goes live, characters who should have the title but don’t will receive it. And newly created characters elected Governor in the future won’t experience the bug.
* The Governor’s Clerk had some text and grammar errors. Fixed.
* The Town Steward was offering inaccurate information about Weapons Stockpiles and Fortifications. Fixed. Also we clarified his description of unrest reduction.
* The cooldown for Port Message of the Day changes was 24 minutes. This has been changed to 30 minutes.
* Fixed text and grammar errors on the Port Information tooltips.
* Fixed a bug where speech bubbles showed up on wrong NPCs or at wrong times.

Stability / Performance:

* Fixed a zone server crash that could occur if someone was colliding with a ship that was leaving the room (being sunk, for example).
* Fixed a rare crash that occur as a result of a race condition when zoning, perhaps while having your warehouse open or such.
* Fixed a rare crash caused by not cleaning the cache enough. (The only folks who hit this were testers and we suspect that’s because they tend to zone around a lot more than the average player.)
* Fixed a crash that could occur trying to adjust your graphics. (If you ever crashed and found “ERROR : … Expect a crash on the next draw call” in your log, that was this crash.)
* Fixed a zone server crash a GM could cause. It’s not like it happened often but GMs shouldn’t be taking down zone servers with typos.


* We shrunk our build a bit by removing old, unused assets. Existing installs won’t notice much difference but it will help new downloads a little.
* Updated localizations from SOE.

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