Ubisoft’s Big Pirate Game Stuck In Developer Hell Is Delayed Again

Skull and Bones art shows a pirate ship heading into a sunset.

Image: Ubisoft

Ubisoft is facing another massive delay. Earlier this year it was Avatar: Pandora’s Frontiers. Now it’s Skull and bonesthe Assassin’s Creed the publisher’s only major fall blockbuster. Previously slated for November, two sources familiar with the game’s development now tell Kotaku it is was delayed again.

The reason for the latest delay is not entirely clear, but it comes less than a month after the game was presented on Ubisoft Forward, the company’s big 2022 gaming showcase. Kotaku understand that Skull and bones‘ The last technical test ended on September 19. According to a source involved, the gameplay was more polished than in previous tests, but the overall player progression still felt superficial. This has also been a concern shared by multiple sources involved in the game’s development.

Originally announced in 2017 as a Session-based multiplayer naval battler, Skull and bones disappeared after 2018 and was later delayed multiple times when the game was rebooted and revamped to focus more on crafting and survival sim elements in the vein of games like Rust. When Skull and bones has been officially re-revealed earlier this yearfootage focused on players completing missions to improve their reputation, unlock new crafting blueprints, and then collect the materials needed to build the thing.

It lacked ground combat or a clear idea of ​​what the game’s story would be. The graphics were also not as impressive as some expected, especially for The first $70 release from Ubisoft and a game that’s ditching the PS4 and Xbox One. According to a former developer, part of the problem is the need to keep the game’s ocean constantly loaded, leaving fewer resources for higher-fidelity cutscenes and other visual flourishes.

As Kotaku reported in 2021, Skull and bones was born from a concept of Assassin’s Creed Black IV: Flag Expansion. However, Ubisoft Singapore, the studio responsible for leading the project, had never built a game of this scale before and struggled to focus on a clear and achievable scope. Development issues were apparently compounded by political tussles between team leads, conflicting directives from Ubisoft headquarters, and a toxic studio head. Some staff members also alleged cases of sexual harassment that management has not solved and wage inequalities between French expatriates and local developers.

While Ubisoft finally installed a new studio head and shuffled the old back at his Paris officeand claimed a significantly improved corporate culture, Skull and bones continued to struggle. Some current and former Ubisoft developers have speculated that the game would have been canceled long ago if not for the hundreds of millions spent and a contract with the Singapore government to eventually ship the game in exchange for generous tax subsidies.

Ubisoft is also long overdue for a big release. Whether Skull and bones completely abandons an already anemic year, the publisher will find itself with Just Dance 2022 and Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope as his only major vacation outings. To help fill the void, Ubisoft had hoped to release Assassin’s Creed Miragethe Assassin’s Creed Valhalla the expansion became a standalone game, but that was also delayed. Currently the only Ubisoft game with a firm release date of 2023 is Valiant Hearts 2.

Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.