Justin Farren, Creative Director at Ubisoft Singapore, reveals “Skull & Bones” during the Ubisoft E3 conference at the Orpheum Theater on June 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Ubisoft Singapore officially launched its first major video game, Skull And Bones, for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on Friday, ending an unusually long development saga that spanned over a decade.
“It’s the first time that this type of game was led by a Singaporean or Southeast Asian studio, so the atmosphere around achieving it has been great,” Jean-Francois Vallee, managing director of Ubisoft Singapore, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.
The Singaporean government has taken steps to bolster its domestic gaming industry. Ubisoft Singapore received a grant from the Economic Development Board in 2016 to aid in the development of an “AAA” game title from the city-state.
The “AAA” game classification refers to titles that are produced and distributed by large, well-known publishers that will typically have high development and marketing budgets.
According to data collected by market research company YouGov in 2020, at least three-quarters of the population in Singapore plays video or mobile games, which jumps to 90% among those aged 18 to 24.
But of those gamers who have played Skull and Bones, reviews so far have been mixed. Metacritic, a website that aggregates reviews of games, lists a critic rating of 64 out of 100 and a “Generally Unfavorable” user rating.
Ubisoft’s Vallee said, however, that he was pleased with the game’s reception so far. He noted millions of people signed up to play an open beta of the game for free, leading up to its official release.
“It’s meeting my expectations, and it’s just the launch. So far, players are engaged with it, they’re giving us feedback, and we already fixed a few bugs,” he said.
The “co-op open world pirate action RPG” sits at a price tag of $60 for the standard version, with more updates and work planned for the game in the future.
But despite a reported $200 million development budget, the process has not been smooth sailing for the young gaming studio founded in 2008.
The game was officially announced in 2017, though reportedly conceived years earlier, following the success of another pirate-themed Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. But Skull and Bones suffered from a long series of launch delays and a full-on reboot starting in 2018.
According to a report from the gaming website Kotaku in 2021, the game had at least three different creative directors during its development, with current and former Ubisoft developers telling the publication that Skull and Bones never had a clear creative vision and suffered from too many managers vying for power.
In a Ubisoft earnings call earlier this month, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot defended the game’s price tag, saying that Skull and Bones was a “quadruple-A game” and expressed confidence that the game will “deliver in the long run.”
The CEO’s past statements have been met with some criticism online by gamers and netizens disappointed in the final Skull and Bones product after the decade-long wait.
Vallee said on Monday that Skull and Bones would remain a main focus of Ubisoft Singapore for many years to come but that the studio had “a lot of other projects in the pipeline.”