Why Is Skull And Bones Being Floated Out To Die?

Why Is Skull And Bones Being Floated Out To Die?

Arrr me hearties! Scissor me timbers, Skull and Bones is finally about to set sail. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is my favourite in the entire series, so even though Skull and Bones is several years too late to ride that wave of momentum, I’m still holding out hope for it. So why in all of the Seven Seas is it being floated out to die?

On the face of it, November 8 is a great release date. It gives it the prestige of being Ubisoft’s big pre-Christmas game, even ahead of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. We’re still waiting on an official release date for that, though it’s still expected in 2022 alongside the movie’s sequel. In a vacuum, November 8 is an ideal time to unleash your game onto the world. There’s just one problem – God of War Ragnarok launches November 9.

Both games have broadly the same audience. The narrative, tone, and gameplay are all different, but by and large they are both mass market games targeting the casual and semi-casual playerbase. The hardcore crowd will have its eyes on both too, but neither of these are the sorts of niche titles that only the most dedicated players will pick up. There are players who only buy three or so games a year, and both Skull and Bones and God of War are aiming to be one of those three. God of War is going to win.

There is no shame in being outsold by God of War Ragnarok of course. It’s the most anticipated game left in the calendar, and probably second only to Elden Ring in terms of overall hype. I have no idea what Ubisoft’s internal projections for Skull and Bones are, but they can’t be higher than Ragnarok. That’s not really the point. It’s not that it won’t outsell Ragnarok, it’s that in launching the same weekend, it’s giving itself no chance. Not only will players be forced to choose (and then choose Ragnarok), so will streamers, journalists, and the general buzz of conversation. Skull and Bones simply has no hope.

What’s worse is there’s no real reason for it. Both Breath of the Wild 2 at Starfield delayed themselves out of 2022. The only two huge releases left are God of War and Hogwarts Legacy, and the latter is entirely reliant on an IP that has grown increasingly controversial. Fantastic Beasts 3 could not succeed off the back of Harry Potter alone. Hogwarts Legacy will still do well, but you’d have to respect another game bolshy enough to take it on. Going up against God of War though is a suicide mission.

There are so many gaps in the calendar for Skull and Bones, and at this stage, what’s the harm in another delay? You have to think Ubisoft is throwing it to the wolves (or the Fenrirs) to leave space for Avatar, but after so many big guns have ducked out, there’s now more than one window available.

I know launch dates are planned ahead of their reveal, and Ubisoft likely chose it before God of War showed its hand. But the moment Ragnarok’s was known, Ubisoft should have pumped the brakes. Or whatever the brakes are on a pirate ship. Anchor, maybe. Yeah, Ubisoft should have pumped the anchor. There is no world in which this makes sense. Option A is Ubisoft has algorithmically determined early November is the best date, and has been fat headed enough to not consider the late complication of Ragnarok, and Option B is Ubisoft thinks Skull and Bones will sink and is using God of War as the cover of night. Option C is that Ubisoft is being petty to a game which caused it so many issues, but hopefully that’s not a factor.

Even just this week, God of War disrupted the calendar. We saw Forspoken delay itself again because of “strategic” reasons, which is a very obvious code for ‘we are moving to get out of God of War’s way’. There’s no shame in it whatsoever.

Skull and Bones might be great or it might be terrible. The problem is nobody is going to know because they’ll be too busy playing God of War instead.

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