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Ubisoft Still Hasn't Released A $120 Million Game. Here's Why

Ubisoft has been having a rough go of things lately, from the underwhelming debut of its new Tom Clancy crossover game (just look at that likes to dislikes ratio) to a lawsuit full of sexual harassment allegations leveled against former and current employees, the sometimes-shady French gaming company has seen better days. Now, an investigation by Kotaku reveals that Ubisoft has become a victim of one of its own IPs. That's right: The killer is in the house — and it's costing Ubisoft tons of money.

Most gamers likely remember "Assassin's Creed: Black Flag," the long-running open-world franchise's venture into the high seas. While the game was met with pretty good reviews — even being considered by some fans to be the best entry in the franchise — one gameplay mechanic stood out from the rest: the naval combat. With surprisingly complex mechanics and a ton of upgrades and customizable cosmetics to pimp out the Jackdaw, blowing cannonball-sized holes into the sides of enemy ships never felt so exhilarating. Ubisoft realized this, which is why, not long after the game's 2013 release, it began planning a multiplayer expansion that would allow players to duke it out on the high seas.

As reported by Kotaku, this planned post-launch expansion grew in scope until it first transformed into an MMO-ish "Black Flag" spin-off, then eventually morphed into its own game: "Skull & Bones," which would launch in fall 2018. Unfortunately, this is where things started going wrong for the Ubi gang. Throw on those flippers, because this rabbit hole's a murky one.

Skull & Bones might be walking the plank

Despite two truly impressive trailers — one of which showed off the game's badass PvP combat in all its glory — the cracks in the ship's hull were starting to show when "Skull & Bones" was delayed from 2018 to 2020. The delays didn't stop there, however; it was soon delayed once more, this time to sometime prior to March 2022 — and then, once again, to an unspecified date before March 2023. Meanwhile, the project has hemorrhaged upwards of $120 million and has gone through a number of iterations since its announcement, with both gameplay and narrative changes a'plenty. At one point it was a "session-based shooter," at another point, it was a world-building multiplayer with fantasy elements.

There's no one specific reason that "Skull & Bones" has found itself languishing in development hell for so long. Still, according to Kotaku, anonymous sources close to the project claim that a combination of directorial changes, visual assets becoming obsolete as time went on, and an over-reliance on Ubisoft Singapore — the studio that had developed the sailing mechanics in "Black Flag" — were at least partly responsible.

Fortunately, it appears that Ubisoft still has faith in the project. When Kotaku reached out to the company in regards to the progress being made on "Skull & Bones," Ubisoft responded, "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."

In other words, there's still hope for Ubisoft's $120 million pirate game. Let's just hope it comes sailing around soon and doesn't find itself sinking to Davy Jones' locker.