It seems Ubisoft is experiencing some difficulties as the French games giant cancels the development of three unannounced games and delays again its upcoming pirate title Skull & Bones.
First reported by games journalist Stephen Totilo of Axios, the axed projects come amid "surprisingly slower" sales, according to the games company. The three cancelled games, which have not been announced so we do not know what they are/were, come on top of the four cancelled in July last year. These are understood to be cost cutting measures as Ubisoft plans to save $200 million in spending.
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In an emergency call with investors, Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot has said that the company has experienced poor performance of late, and cited the weaker than expected sales of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023 (via Kotaku). In a press release the company summarised that it is "facing major challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles".
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Meanwhile, its upcoming pirate-themed title Skull & Bones faces yet another delay as Ubisoft mentions an "upcoming beta phase" and added that it now expects the game to be released "early 2023-2024". This is the sixth time the game has been delayed.
In what appears to be a strategic shift it seems Ubisoft wants to prioritise its biggest brands going forward. These include the likes of Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and The Division, which the company specifically mentioned (thanks VGC's Andy Robinson).
The previous four cancelled projects, which was announced last summer, included battle royale Ghost Recon Frontline and Splinter Cell VR while the other two were unannounced games. This latest wave of cancellations comes as Ubisoft is facing "natural attrition" – meaning loss of staff – and "divesting of non-core assets" which probably translates to getting rid of projects it deems spare but could also mean firing people, but such business euphemisms aren't always clear until we learn exactly what it means further down the line. Whichever the case it is clear that Ubisoft is facing economic challenges.
Finally, Ubisoft has said it has one more "large" game yet to be announced but we can expect it to be unveiled in a window between April 1 and March 31 of next year.