Fans of Skull and Bones looking to hit the high seas of adventure this spring have had their dreams sunken to the abyss yet again by Ubisoft, which has delayed the much-maligned pirate game for a sixth — yes, sixth — time. And there are further signs indicating that the publisher could be facing significant turmoil and uncertainty in 2023. In an emergency investor call, Ubisoft revealed that, in addition to delaying Skull and Bones again, it has canceled three unannounced games and is cutting its headcount to attempt to save $215 million in costs in 2023 and 2024.
The cancellations are on top of the four games Ubisoft canceled last year. Skull and Bones will now release in Ubisoft’s next fiscal year, which begins on April 1. While it could mean only a slight delay from the most recent March 9 release date, Skull and Bones could also release as late as December.
Ubisoft Cancels More Games
Several delays have beset Ubisoft during the pandemic, and it feels the effects of those hurdles as it tries to move forward in 2023. Skull and Bones was initially announced six years ago, and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora was delayed out of 2022. Those delays, combined with unexpectedly poor sales performance of both Just Dance 2023 and Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, are making Ubisoft project a loss of $537 million for the fiscal year that ends in March.
Ubisoft maintains that Skull and Bones is in good shape, stating in a press release that the game is finished but that “the additional time has already paid off and brought impressive improvements to its quality, which has been confirmed by recent playtests.” In addition, the publisher wants to take more time to market the game.
Speaking with Kotaku, a Ubisoft representative said the following:
While Skull and Bones is now complete, we are using the remaining time until our launch to leverage feedback from our ongoing Technical Tests and upcoming open beta to polish and balance the experience. To fully deliver on this launch, we are leveraging the full power of co-developing studios already involved in the development process, including Ubisoft Paris studio. Ubisoft Singapore remains the lead studio on Skull and Bones, and the team is working full speed on the game experience and the development of its robust post-launch content.
Since Skull and Bones only needs polish, it’s concerning that it was delayed with no updated release date set. However, CFO Frédéric Duguet assured investors that Ubisoft would ship several large titles in the 2023-2024 window, including Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Of course, Skull and Bones should still arrive in 2023, and Duguet indicated that “yet-to-be-announced premium games, including a large one,” will also launch in 2023-2024.