Major publisher Ubisoft officially announced Skull & Bones in 2017. However, the game has been in development on-and-off development since its initial conception in 2013.
The CFO was quoted as saying:
“It’s a very promising new IP focussing on multiplayer first, so very consistent with our strategy to bring multiplayer competition and co-op first in a big open world, with a great, attractive fantasy,”
He also mentioned that the team is now "very happy" with the direction the game is heading.
Ubisoft elaborates upon their upcoming projects
As seen in their Q3 earnings report, the much-anticipated pirate game will be launching in the next fiscal year, between April 2022 and March 2023. It will join other major projects coming out during that period, such as Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.
With additional titles like The Division: Heartlands, Ghost Recon Frontline, Roller Champions, and now Skull & Bones, the French publisher has numerous online-focused games in the pipeline.
While Ubisoft is one of the few major gaming entities who value co-op and multiplayer in their AAA games, where does one draw the line?
Given Skull & Bones's "multiplayer first" statements, the game seems to have foregone the single player - or at least tied it in to the multiplayer/online aspect as an afterthought.
Since these experiences are often community-driven, the narrative aspects take a backseat in favor of the latest "daily challenges," with the gameplay loop usually falling into a mindless grind.
Hopefully, Skull & Bones manages to strike a balance, but considering the genre's track record, those looking for a coherent single player to focus on may want to lower their expectations.
Take another Ubisoft game, Beyond Good & Evil 2 - which is confirmed to be online-only based on an official Q&A. The original was a purely single player driven experience beloved by many around the world for its charm, so the news had many fans upset at Ubisoft.
While it is very much possible that things have changed drastically since then, Singapore's Black Flag-inspired game may not offer such leeway for some fans.
On a related note, the earnings report also states that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) has concluded its investigation into Ubisoft Singapore. The branch was reported to have had s*xual misconduct problems last year.
This has also likely contributed to the developmental troubles of Skull & Bones as the-then managing director, Hugues Ricour, was replaced after the allegations.
No release date for the game has been confirmed yet, but Skull & Bones is coming to PC, PS4 and XB1.