While the recent XDefiant trailer controversy is still abuzz, a good number of people are wondering about Ubisoft’s seafaring pirate action game: Skull & Bones. It seems that a recent expose has clarified that it’s still a-going, but with no end in sight, being locked in 8 years of development hell.
According to a recent Kotaku feature, the game is still struggling to form an identity. Many, many ex-developers and current developers have said the following regarding the 8-year long project.
“A lot of stuff still doesn’t make sense. Just polishing it at this point would be a waste of time.”
“On paper Skull & Bones looks like it’s an easy game to make, but it’s really not.”
“If Skull & Bones were at a competitor it would have been killed 10 times already.”
“Just having people working for four or five years on something that doesn’t move forward, that destroys anyone.”
“Every time we got feedback from Paris they would just freak out and change everything, and then change the people working on it, and that happened multiple times.”
“Ubisoft Singapore has always been kind of known [internally] to be one of the worst Ubisoft studios in terms of culture. People would visit [from other studios] and be like, ‘What the f*** is wrong here?”
“The toxic culture permeating the Singapore studio is in no small part responsible for most of the production issues—reboots, rebrands and re-reboots—that have plagued Skull & Bones for a decade.”
“They had 10 years to integrate. They just value the face of the company more than the actual employees.”
“Nobody knew what the f*** they were doing.”
“No one wants to admit they f***ed up. It’s too big to fail, just like the banks in the U.S.”
“No one believed February 2022 [for launch], but you always hope.”
“Since the beginning, this project has always been driven by fear.”
“It’s a classic case of mismanagement for eight years. It’s a classic case of mismanagement for eight years.”
“The game is still evolving. Everyone knows what an Ubisoft game is supposed to be and the design simply isn’t there yet.”
It seems like Skull & Bones, which was supposed to be an Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag expansion, ended up being a project with no clear design vision in mind with multiple managers exerting control over it. Sure, Ubisoft could have killed it after a couple of years of stagnation, but sources said that a deal with the Singapore government required the game to ship one way or another.
In addition to hiring a certain number of people at its Singapore studio in exchange for generous subsidies, Ubisoft Singapore must also launch original brand new IPs in the next few years. Plus, it had a lot of managers vying for control over it and thus plagued by annual reboots and mini-refreshes.
Skull & Bones has gone through a number of delays. Initially, the game was supposed to be out in late 2018. It was pushed back to 2019, then to March 2020, and then to March 2022. Now, it’s due to be out before March 2023.
Here’s the official word from Ubisoft during its May 2021 investor’s call:
“Production, led by [Ubisoft] Singapore, has been advancing well over the past 12 months, and the promise is better than ever. The additional time will allow the team to fully deliver on its vision.”