Things aren't exactly going smoothly over at Ubisoft. The publisher has canceled another three games, following the four titles it killed last summer. Not only that, the company has announced yet another delay for Skull and Bones — a game we first tried all the way back at E3 2017. The pirate sim was supposed to finally emerge on March 9th, but Ubisoft has delayed it until the early part of its 2023-24 fiscal year, which starts in April. This is the sixth publicly announced delay of Skull and Bones.
"Players will be able to discover the beauty of Skull and Bones in the upcoming beta phase. The additional time has already paid off and brought impressive improvements to its quality, which has been confirmed by recent playtests," Ubisoft said in a financial statement. "We believe players will be positively surprised by its evolution. We have decided to postpone its release in order to have more time to showcase a much more polished and balanced experience and to build awareness."
Meanwhile, the company lowered its financial projections target for the October-December quarter from around €830 million ($891 million) to approximately €725 million ($779 million). Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023 didn't perform as well as the company expected. "We are facing contrasted market dynamics as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and everlasting live games, in the context of worsening economic conditions affecting consumer spending," CEO Yves Guillemot said.
Ubisoft expects its net bookings to fall by 10 percent for the year. Previously, the company expected that those revenues would increase by 10 percent. All told, Ubisoft has reduced its estimated operating income for this year by around $1 billion.
Going forward, Ubisoft is tightening its belt and will focus on fewer games. The company is depreciating €500 million ($538 million) in research and development on the canceled games, as well as its upcoming premium and free-to-play titles. It's also aiming to reduce costs by over €200 million ($215 million) in the next two years through "targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets and usual natural attrition." However, it plans to keep hiring "highly talented people" for its major projects.
Aside from Skull and Bones, perhaps the biggest title Ubisoft currently has on the docket for this year is Assassin's Creed Mirage. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is slated to arrive by the end of March 2024 as well. Other unannounced premium games are in the pipeline for the next fiscal year, including "a large one." Free-to-play titles for some of Ubisoft's biggest brands are in the works too. Given its current state of affairs, the company will need most, if not all of those, to be hits.