Believe it or not, Ubisoft is looking for Skull and Bones testers

Skull and Bones
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

It's been five years since Ubisoft's multiplayer pirate game Skull and Bones was announced, and it has not been smooth sailing since. Initial impressions were positive, but then it was delayed, delayed, delayed again, and for the last couple of years all we've seen of it are vague assurances during Ubisoft financial calls that, yes, it is still coming.

Now, after years of silence and a report detailing toxic work conditions at its lead development studio, it looks like some sort of forward progress might actually be made: Today Ubisoft unveiled the Skull and Bones Insider Program, which will enable a "selected few" fans to try out early builds and provide feedback to developers.

"Our main objective is to get real data and feedback. We want to see what our players do when they're free to play our game whenever they want, however they want," the Insiders Program announcement explains. "Most importantly, we want to know how they feel about the game."

The initial group of testers will be kept fairly small in order "to ensure we do things carefully, and set things up in a way that allows us to fully understand the feedback we receive." People interested in taking part should have "a keen interest in game development, [and] plenty of time to allocate to testing and reporting issues, bugs or just general feedback." It sounds kind of like a job to me, except that you won't be paid for it: You will, however, get to deal with plenty of bugs, crashes, and untuned gameplay. There's a legally-binding non-disclosure agreement, too.

It's nice that things are happening, and I'm looking forward to hearing how Skull and Bones now compares to our first glimpse from way back in 2017. But it's clearly still a long way off, and there remains no sign of a release date: The Skull and Bones Insiders Program website, where you can sign up for a shot at the testing program, says that the release date is "coming soon."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.