Skull and Bones, the game that has been in production so long it practically became a myth, is now running an open beta this weekend ahead of its release a week from now. The idea is to show that after all this time and all this drama, the game is actually good, and you should play it at release.
But you’ll have to pay $70 to do so.
Despite very much being billed as a live, ongoing game, Skull and Bones is charging $70 up front, then will add its microtransactions and battle passes and such on top of that as time goes on. This prompted a question posed to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot about why they were doing that instead of broadening the playerbase as a free-to-play game. His response:
“You will see that Skull and Bones is a fully-fledged game,” he said. “It’s a very big game, and we feel that people will really see how vast and complete that game is. It’s a really full, triple…quadruple-A game, that will deliver in the long run.”
I am trying to understand how you say something is “a vast and complete game” and in the next sentence say it “will deliver in the long run.” This is the good old live service philosophy, where the game will deliver over the course of its lifespan, not necessarily at launch. And that’s another problem with charging $70 up front when people want a complete game for that price, not the promise that it will deliver over time after loads of microtransaction-based future content launches. Live service launches are hard enough as it is, but there are very few that are successful on top of launching at a full AAA (or AAAA!) price to start with.
It’s also hard to imagine a live-service pirate game as a quadruple-A experience, whatever that’s even supposed to mean, given its core nature. I suppose the idea is that they’ve just spent so long on it, and invested so much that they view it that way. And it’s probably another reason it’s $70, to try and get some of that development cost back even if it doesn’t work in the long term. And honestly I just don’t really know how a pirate ship combat game, no matter how many As it has, is going to perform in the long term against so much market competition.
We will see how this goes after launch next week, the end of a decade-ish long saga that appears to have produced something Ubisoft is confident in. We’ll see if players bite.