For the fourth time in as many years, Ubisoft's open-world pirate game, Skull and Bones, is going to be delayed. Its release date has been pushed back to 2022.
If Skull and Bones does indeed release in 2022, the game will have been in development for at least half a decade if not more. This certainly does not bode well for a game intended to piggyback on the popularity of 2013's Assassin's Creed: Black Flag.
Skull and Bones Delayed Yet Again
To say that Skull and Bones' development cycle has been rough is only fitting. The game was initially intended to release in 2018. Unfortunately, as we now know courtesy of Ubisoft's full-year earnings report for 2020, Skull and Bones will be delayed to 2022.
In the same earnings call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that multiple studios are helping Ubisoft Singapore with Skull and Bones. Both Guillemot and Ubisoft CFO Frederick Duguet seemed optimistic about releasing Skull and Bones in 2022. Duguet described the game's premise to be "better than ever". He also claimed that the "additional time will allow the team to fully deliver on its vision."
Skull and Bones' Creative Director, Elisabeth Pellen, confirmed in September 2020 that the numerous delays were the result of the studio's "new vision" for the pirate simulator. Although you can't exactly help but express doubt as to whether this is truly the case. This is especially after Hugues Ricour, the former Managing Director at Ubisoft Singapore, was removed following issues with workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.
With that said, it will be interesting to see what the reception to Skull and Bones will be once it releases, whenever that happens.
For those who've already forgotten, Skull and Bones was born out of the popularity of the naval combat that was introduced to the Assassin's Creed games starting with 2012's Assassin's Creed III. In particular, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, is one of the main reasons that demand for a game like Skull and Bones exists.
However, it certainly doesn't help Skull and Bones' case that it's no longer the only AAA pirate game on the market. By the time the game releases in 2022, Rare's Sea of Thieves will have already been out for at least four years. It's had just as much time to polish up gameplay and add content as Skull and Bones has been delayed. As a result, Sea of Thieves is now widely considered as one of the best Xbox Series X games.
Ubisoft will definitely need to make Skull and Bones a perfect game. Otherwise, the perpetually delayed title could be met with just as heavy of a backlash as Cyberpunk 2077 if not worse.
Luckily, Ubisoft's most recent earnings call wasn't all bad news. Ubisoft confirmed that it will release at least 5 big games before 31 March 2022. This includes Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, The Division Heartland, Roller Champions, and Riders Republic.