Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones has passed its alpha stage, but multiple former developers are reporting that the nearly eight-year-old project is still struggling due to poor production management with a budget that continues to balloon beyond initial expectations. Gaming outlet Kotaku talked with over 20 Ubisoft devs, detailing how power-hungry managers, a deal with the Singapore government, and frequent creative reworks have resulted in four major delays for the project described by one dev as “too big to fail, just like the banks in the US.”
Over the past few years, Skull & Bones’ development has been marred with a host of setbacks, ranging from the removal of the project’s managing director Hugues Ricour after allegations of sexual harassment to numerous reboots that have forced Ubisoft to start development from scratch. Originally conceived as an expansion for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag back in 2013, Ubisoft has been pushing the multiplayer ship-battler in an attempt to get another lucrative live-service game under itsbelt.
The Kotaku article details the long development history of the game—previously known as Black Flag Infinite before turning into its own IP—and paints the picture of a project that had little to no creative vision behind it. One former developer stated that “a lot of stuff still doesn’t make sense … Just polishing it at this point would be a waste of time,” while another stated that the project’s rocky history is “a classic case of mismanagement for eight years.”
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.
Additionally, the interviews revealed that Ubisoft Singapore has signed a deal with the Singapore government in exchange for “generous subsidies.” However, the deal also requires the company to make a live service game along with several original brand new IPs “in the next few years,” resulting in even more added pressure. Those who work at the studio also note that it is still in desperate need of reform after allegations of sexual harassment and abuse came to light last year.
While it’s no doubt good news that production is at least making some sort of headway as the floundering title moves past alpha stage, it could only be a matter of time before Skull & Bones begins taking on water and sinking once more.