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Skull and Bones devs detail troubled development - Report

Lack of clear direction, changes in leadership, and redesigns contributed to repeated delays

Ubisoft's Skull and Bones has seen multiple delays since its E3 reveal in 2017 and has been in development for eight years.

Recently Kotaku reported on the title's development difficulties as it spoke with more than 20 former and current staff members from the game's studio.

The exposé notes that a lack of clear direction, changes in leadership, and multiple redesigns contributed to its long development cycle.

The game's development began in 2013 as an expansion to Assassin's Creed Black Flag and eventually became what is known as Skull and Bones.

The title "never had a clear creative vision behind it," sources told Kotaku. Leadership would receive feedback from Ubisoft Editorial (Paris headquarters) and would respond by changing everything, which happened often.

Skull and Bones has had three creative directors overseeing the project and sources claim that changes in leadership further delayed development.

A new creative director would be assigned and would bring with them their own team. This would result in then-current producers, game directors, and creative leads leaving and or being pushed out.

This accompanied multiple redesigns for the game, as the development team went back and forth on fundamental questions such as whether people would play as a ship or as a person.

With so many changes in direction, the development schedule would be continually pushed backward. Skull and Bones' most recent release window is now Ubisoft's fiscal year of 2022.

Responding to Kotaku, Ubisoft confirmed that Skull and Bones production has just passed alpha.

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Jeffrey Rousseau

Staff Writer

Jeffrey Rousseau joined GamesIndustry.biz in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.