In 2022, Ubisoft canceled a few titles and delayed pirate role-playing game Skull & Bones. And even though it is a new year, the company has done almost the same thing by canceling three more games and delaying Skull & Bones yet again.
The company revealed this information in a recent financial update. This dire report notes that the industry has turned toward “mega-brands and long-lasting titles than can reach players across the globe, across platforms, and business models.” However, the games Ubisoft is positioning to meet this criteria have not yet released and its recent games have “not performed as well as expected.” It also called out “worsening macroeconomic conditions” that have made the market an even tougher place, as well as the investments and challenges that were a result of working from home.
These struggles have caused Ubisoft to do a full review of its slate and become more cautious. And as such, Ubisoft said it has canceled three more unannounced games in order to ensure that its energy is “focused on building [its] brands and live services into some of the most powerful within the industry.” As previously stated, this is on top of the four unannounced games it canned in July 2022.
Co-Founder and CEO Yves Guillemot also called out Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. Despite glowing critical reviews and an “ambitious marketing plan,” he noted that Ubisoft was surprised at its disappointing performance in the final weeks of 2022 and early parts of 2023. As reported by Video Games Chronicle, Guillemot said that he thinks the tactical crossover title “going to do good numbers over time” because of positive player reception. For reference, the original reached 10 million players as of August 2022 after five years.
He also stated that Just Dance 2023 underperformed, as well. Despite these setbacks, Guillemot did say he was confident in the company, given its “teams, brands, production capacity, technology, and balance-sheet” and specifically mentioned the continued strength of Rainbow Six Siege and Assassin’s Creed.
Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones delay was also buried in this report. While it explained that the additional development time has paid off and made it a stronger title, Ubisoft is pushing the title into “early 2023 to 2024” in order to “build awareness” and add on more polish. The game’s Twitter account has yet to acknowledge the push, but it did reveal that it is holding a stream on January 13 at 9 a.m. PT.
Skull & Bones has been kicking around Ubisoft for almost a decade. It started development in 2013 as a multiplayer spin-off to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag before spinning off into its own title. It was revealed at E3 2017 and initially scheduled to release in 2018 before being delayed more and more as the years rolled on. According to a Kotaku report, it suffered from a lack of direction, muddled design, and poor management, which helps explain its constantly shifting release window. It was most recently pegged for November 8, 2022 before being postponed to March 9, 2023, a date it is no longer going to hit.