I won't tell you to stop me if you've heard this one before, because I know full well that you've heard this one before: Skull and Bones, Ubisoft's game of high-seas shenanigans in the golden age of piracy, has been delayed again, and is now expected to be out sometime after April 1.
Skull and Bones had been set to come out on March 9 of this year, which was itself a delay from November 8 2022, a date drawn after various prior postponements going all the way back to fall 2018. The March target struck me as pretty solid—I mean, how long can an Assassin's Creed: Black Flag spinoff game possibly take?—but it turns out that I was being overly optimistic.
Word of the latest delay comes amidst bad news all around for Ubisoft, which said today that it is "facing major challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles that can reach players across the globe, across platforms and business models." Major-franchise games announced over the past four years as part of Ubisoft's "investment phase" still haven't been released, while games that have launched recently, like Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023, have not met expectations.
The situation has forced a significant revision of Ubisoft's financial targets—downward, in case there was any doubt—and has also caught Skull and Bones in its whirlpool swirl.
"Players will be able to discover the beauty of Skull and Bones in the upcoming beta phase," Ubisoft said. "The additional time has already paid off and brought impressive improvements to its quality, which has been confirmed by recent playtests. We believe players will be positively surprised by its evolution.
"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. Skull and Bones will now be released early 2023-24."
That would be Ubisoft's 2023-24 fiscal year, to be clear, which begins April 1. That part about building awarness is probably the smart move—Skull and Bones has been kicking around for so long in unreleased form that I'm starting to forget it ever existed.
Following the delay announcement in Ubisoft's financial update, the Skull and Bones team said on Twitter that the extra time will "help us in providing further polish and balancing to our game experience."