Excellent multiplayer pirate FPS Blackwake's first update in 4 years makes it free to keep

Blackwake combat
(Image credit: Mastfire Studios)

When I was writing about pirate games you should play instead of Skull and Bones, I had to give a nod to Blackwake, even though it didn't quite make the cut. The multiplayer naval FPS   left early access back in 2020, after making a bit of a splash initially on YouTube thanks to its emergent mayhem. Think of it as a more aggressive, less cartoonish Sea of Thieves, where the focus is on blowing up ships and fighting their crews. Sadly, the player count dwindled soon after, and it stopped receiving updates before the year was out. 

Possibly in response to Skull and Bones' launch, someone from the now defunct studio is attempting to inject new life into the game, specifically by making it free to keep. Hop onto Steam and you can download it right now without spending any of your booty. 

It's a pretty good strategy for any game stuck in playerless purgatory. Obviously it's not making any money as it stands, so keeping the cost of entry isn't doing anyone any good. Unfortunately, it's likely that this shedding of the price is the last update we'll see for Blackwake. The studio no longer exists, the website is gone, and with no upfront cost, DLC or microtransactions, nobody is making any money out of this, which means the chances of it getting more support are next to nil. 

Funnily enough, back in October a player made a post on the Steam forums stating that they would "pay the devs $5,000 to make the game free to play". The post has, naturally, resurfaced. Time to pay up!

While Blackwake probably doesn't have much of a future, hopefully this means it will at least spawn explosive and sometimes slapstick pirate brawls once again. While it never drew in huge numbers, at its peak it had just over 6,000 players duking it out concurrently. Over the last year, though, it's only managed double digits. Until today. Now it's on its way to 400 concurrent players, which at least means you'll probably be able to find some fights to get into. I'm tempted to fire it up again myself. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.