Ok, let’s start this article out just a tad bit differently than usual. Look, I understand things happen in the development process. Since the end of 2019, things have been just weird, the fact that Covid completely fucked up the world, our lives, and everything in it has been hard to get past. Realistically we can all admit that after two years of lockdowns, things have just been rocky all around the world.
I think we are finally getting to a place of normality but our lives are still heavily affected by the spread of the virus. One thing that was really hit hard was game development. Back in 2021, JumpStart shared a great article showcasing how the games industry was affected.
A total of 44% of video game companies experienced delays, 44%! Now let’s think about that for a second, Ubisoft tries making a game that is just based on one of the coolest aspects of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. Then the game is met with development issues, that game gets delayed, then here comes COVID!
This pushes the game back even further, more development issues happen as the studio adjusts to working from home, then boom ANOTHER DELAY…and so on and so forth. Today, Ubisoft announced that the game has now been delayed again for the sixth time since it was announced. It was also announced that three unannounced titles have been canned due to “facing major challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles that can reach players across the globe, across platforms and business models.”
(Information Source: IGN)
Yes, things don’t look too good for not just certain games, but for Ubisoft as a whole. The company has now changed its full fiscal year plan because of underperforming titles like Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023. Ubisoft Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Yves Guillemot, had this to say in a recent press release:
“We are clearly disappointed by our recent performance. We are facing contrasted market dynamics as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and everlasting live games, in the context of worsening economic conditions affecting consumer spending.
Despite excellent ratings and players’ reception as well as an ambitious marketing plan, we were surprised by Mario + Rabbids®: Sparks of Hope underperformance in the final weeks of 2022 and early January. Just Dance® 2023 underperformed as well. Therefore, with the approval of the Board of Directors, we are taking additional important strategic and operational decisions today. It is key to continue adapting our organization, to further strengthen our execution, and to ensure we both deliver amazing games to players as well as great value creation.
The industry’s long-term prospects remain promising, and I am convinced Ubisoft is well positioned to benefit from this momentum thanks to the strength of our teams, brands, production capacity, technology, and balance sheet. Our back catalog remains very healthy with notably robust activity on Rainbow Six Siege, great momentum for our Assassin’s Creed games, and generally solid performance from our live games.
We expect our strategy to build long-lasting live games and transform our biggest brands into a truly global phenomenon with multiple offerings across platforms and business models, to ultimately generate significant value creation, with strong topline and operating income growth over the coming years.”
Though this statement makes it clear that Ubisoft has plans to make their titles mega-hits, the question is still. . .what has really been holding games like Skull and Bones back so much? Is it overly high expectations? Development failures? Or has the development team been pushed to such extremes that it’s hard to keep up with the company’s expectations?
I can tell you this when I played Skull and Bones at E3 2018 with other press members and the dev team it was something magical. The Ubisoft Singapore team members that we met were overjoyed about the development of the game and from what I played I couldn’t wait to play more! (Gameplay video from the event below)
I as well as others here at Cinelinx fully support the teams at Ubisoft as they face these challenges. I know that when this game does release, I think for fans of this style of game, it will be something very special and we will see all the amazing hard work the team has put in all these years.
Lastly, the Skull and Bones Twitter page sent out a tweet today stating this:
— Skull and Bones (@skullnbonesgame) January 12, 2023
The fact that the dev team is being super transparent, sharing new gameplay and lore details tomorrow, and sharing the release date and test dates soon is a very good sign that we still have hope that the game will be released rather soon! So, lets all pray to the gaming gods that somehow, someway, Skull and Bones will see the light of day sooner than later.