Ubisoft's long-troubled pirate game Skull and Bones has been delayed yet again, but it may want to count itself lucky seeing as how the publisher has also canceled three more unannounced projects amid performance that the company is "clearly disappointed by," according to CEO Yves Guillemot.
"We have decided to postpone its release in order to have more time to showcase a much more polished and balanced experience and to build awareness," Ubisoft said today in a statement. "Skull and Bones will now be released early 2023-24."
The disappointing news arrived alongside the publisher's latest financial report and conference call, which brought several months of simmering concerns to a boil. This comes just three months after Skull and Bones' last delay, which pushed the game to March 9, 2023, right as it was finally approaching its then-planned November 8, 2022 release date.
With today's update, Skull and Bones is once again without a concrete release date; this vague "early 2023-24" window could imply a delay of only a few weeks or multiple months. That's six delays, if my math is right. However, Ubisoft maintains that "players will be able to discover the beauty of Skull and Bones in the upcoming beta phase," so the game should make some sort of appearance relatively soon.
The three cancellations announced today will join the four projects Ubisoft axed in July 2022, which included Splinter Cell VR and Ghost Recon Frontline. Between these three projects and budget changes around "upcoming premium and free-to-play games," Ubisoft reports it has depreciated €500 million in R&D.
"We are clearly disappointed by our recent performance," Guillemot said in Ubisoft's report (opens in new tab). "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."
On today's conference call, an investor asked why franchises like Call of Duty and God of War have still found explosive success despite the market conditions Ubisoft describes in its report. "What we can see is, when there's more pressure, people go for the biggest brands and they don't go to the small ones," Guillemot replied.
"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," Guillemot continues in the report. "Just Dance 2023 underperformed as well."
Our own Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope review called the cute strategy game "complex, rewarding, and regularly very clever."
As of last month, Ubisoft was seeking playtesters for a Star Wars project in the works at Massive Entertainment.