After 8 years of development, can Skull and Bones recapture the magic of Assassin's Creed: Black Flag and compete with Sea of Thieves?

Skull and Bones (Image via Ubisoft)
Skull and Bones (Image via Ubisoft)

Skull and Bones, the repeatedly delayed pirate game from Ubisoft, has finally passed its alpha stage of development, according to the publisher’s statement given to Kotaku.

Kotaku’s report goes into detail about the long and troubled development history of the game, which reportedly began in 2013. The update comes just two months after Ubisoft’s announcement of Skull and Bones’ most recent delay.

This pushes the game’s release window to at least 2022, with the possibility of it slipping to 2023. Skull and Bones was first revealed in E3 2017 and then got a cinematic trailer in E3 2018, before never being shown by Ubisoft since.

Skull and Bones passed alpha stage of development after 8 years

Offering insight into their work and progress, Ubisoft stated:

"The Skull & Bones team are proud of the work they’ve accomplished on the project since their last update with production just passing Alpha, and are excited to share more details when the time is right."

Skull and Bones was reportedly planned in 2013 as a post-launch multiplayer update to Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.

Since then, it has gone on to receive multiple iterations in various different directions, from the MMO-like spinoff with the working title Black Flag Infinite, later to become its own new IP Skull and Bones in 2017, at which point Ubisoft revealed its trailer in E3.

Prototyping is an important first part of any game’s development where the developers decide which broad direction a certain game will take, before allocating the majority of the development resource into creating assets for the said game. However, in the case of Skull and Bones, it seems that the prototyping period lasted for close to a decade, which can be reportedly attributed to creative, management, and struggle for resources within Ubisoft Singapore and the Ubisoft development umbrella as a whole.

The development of Skull and Bones has reportedly taken $120 million already, and with roughly 400 people working on it currently, it will only sore up the total development budget for the game furthermore.

Recently Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed: Infinity, which is a live service successor to the AC franchise. Skull and Bones also seemed to have taken that route, but the clear goal of it, quite surprisingly, has not been set yet.

“The game is still evolving,” said one current developer to Kotaku. This was followed by a further comment:

“Everyone knows what an Ubisoft game is supposed to be and the design simply isn’t there yet.”

Time will tell whether the naval gameplay of Skull and Bones will be able to recapture the magic of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, or compete with Sea of Thieves, which is the go-to game for players looking to delve into pirate fantasy.

Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul
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