The open-world multiplayer pirate game Skull and Bones was announced in June 2017—nearly four solid years ago—with an expected release target of fall 2018. It made a good initial impression—we said playing it "felt like Burnout as much as Black Flag," which we were definitely on board with—but has been beset by trouble since. It's been delayed multiple times, to the point that Ubisoft felt compelled to reassure everyone that it was still happening, shortly after which the managing director of the Skull and Bones studio in Singapore was ousted following multiple accusations of bullying and sexual harassment.
In today's full year earnings report for 2020-21, Ubisoft pushed it back again: It's now set to come out in 2022-23.
"Skull and Bones is now expected for fiscal year '23. We strongly believe in the team's creative vision, and have been given an increasingly ambitious mandate for the game," Ubisoft chief financial officer Frederick Duguet said during today's earnings call. "Production, led by [Ubisoft] Singapore, has been advancing well over the past 12 months, and the promise is better than ever. The additional time will allow the team to fully deliver on its vision."
That echoes remarks about the game's increasing scope made by creative director Elisabeth Pellen last year. "We dreamt something bigger for Skull and Bones, and these ambitions naturally came with bigger challenges," she said at the time. "These difficulties resulted in necessary delays for our game."
CEO Yves Guillemot said later in the call that Ubisoft is actually bringing more help onto the game in order to get it finished.
"What we have been doing to make sure they could really come strongly with Skull and Bones is, we increased the associate studios that are working with them at the moment," he said. "So there's a good and big team now working on the game, and the last 12 months have really been good in terms of the way things were coming along. So we are confident they can really bring something really exceptional for the market."
Development may be coming along nicely, but it's still a long way off: Ubisoft's 2022-23 fiscal year doesn't begin until May 1, 2022. More information will hopefully be shared during the next Ubisoft Forward event, which is set to take place on June 12 as part of E3 2021.