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Skull & Bones delayed again, this time to 2020

Ubisoft’s swashbuckler needs another year of polish

Three tall ships with full sails open sail away from the viewer in Ubisoft’s pirate adventure Skull and Bones Ubisoft Singapore/Ubisoft
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Skull & Bones, the open-world pirate adventure Ubisoft first showed at E3 2017, won’t launch until the spring of 2020 at the earliest, and won’t be shown off at this year’s expo. That’s the second-such yearlong delay for the game in the past year.

The news came during the publisher’s call with investors yesterday, in which Ubisoft discussed its publishing plans going forward. Skull & Bones will now be launching after the fiscal year for Ubisoft, which ends in March 2020.

The title features tactical naval combat in single-player and multiplayer modes, the latter of which supports five-on-five action. Players engage and board other ships, taking them over with hand-to-hand combat.

In a comment to GameSpot, Ubisoft gave a similar rationale for Skull & Bones’ delay: “For new IPs, it is common to have evolutions of creative vision and this requires more development time.” In May 2018, Ubisoft told investors that developers needed more time “to offer players an even more engaging experience.”

The official Twitter account for Skull & Bones yesterday acknowledged the delay, and the game’s absence from E3 2019, in a short video showing development of the game. “This is challenging news for us all, but it’s what’s needed to make Skull & Bones as awesome as it can be,” the account said.

Skull & Bones is being developed by Ubisoft Singapore, best known for contributing the naval combat sequences that helped distinguish 2013’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Skull & Bones is the first game for which it is lead developer.

In the same call to investors, Ubisoft mentioned that Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 did not meet the initial sales projections (on consoles) that the company had offered. For the first Tom Clancy’s The Division back in 2016, Ubisoft claimed a record for best sales of a new franchise (whole dollars) during the launch week.

That said, yesterday the publisher touted Rainbow Six Siege as a billion-dollar earner since its debut in 2015; Siege’s success shows that Ubisoft plays a long support game for its adventures, even if their sales figures don’t dazzle right out of the gate.

Skull & Bones will be available in 2020 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One,

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