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E3 2017: An Unprecedented Response for Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones – But Will it Last?

At E3 2017 this year, Ubisoft revealed a very ambitious naval war faring game titled Skull & Bones. Those who were fortunate enough to play it at E3 were really impressed and it clearly took a large amount of its inspiration from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Why would Ubisoft release Skull & Bones as a new game and not just connect it to Assassin’s Creed? It’s a juggernaut of a franchise and already has a huge fan base. In a wide ranging interview with Gamespot, the managing director of Ubisoft’s Singapore office, Olivier de Rotalier and Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot, were asked just that question.

“After Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, we wanted to stay in the pirate fantasy and to make it bigger and stronger.” – De Rotalier said. 

It turns out that the team in Singapore had created a prototype of a 1v1 warefare battle mode. It was super fun to play but a huge cry from what Assassin’s Creed is all about. It was also purely multiplayer focused, with no single player attached to it, so instead of including it in the game, they decided it would be better off on its own.

The real question is. Will people want to play a bare-bones knock off of Assassin’s Creed without the in-depth story? I mean, I like a multiplayer game like any other guy, but is that enough? The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was fun as all hell when it first broke on the scene, it was raucous and different, but then Disney over saturated the brand with like 10,000 sequels (and they’re not done yet!). Today the movies are barely watchable (for the sane among us) and at best should be straight to DVD or blu ray.

Assassin’s Creed is popular because of the brand and the franchise. It has a huge following and has been going strong now since 2007. It makes sense that Ubisoft would want to keep this title away from their star attraction. On one hand, it might be such a departure from the series that fans don’t get it and it fails. On the other hand, it could be a steaming pile of garbage that takes the whole series down with it (i.e. plummeting sales numbers). Although, I doubt a multiplayer mode could sink the entire series. 

Wouldn’t attaching it to the franchise mean a wider audience and the chance more Assassin’s Creed fans play it? If it came packaged with the game, it would mean guaranteed sales, and more opportunities for Ubisoft to make money within the mode through possible micro-transactions or in-game purchases (I know, these are terrible).

Instead of Skull & Bones, the new IP, this could be Assassin’s Creed’s version of Call of Duty’s Zombie Mode, we’ll call it, I don’t know, Pirate Mode. It could be the start of a beautiful thing, whereby every new game comes packaged with a new awesome pirate mode. 

Further along in the interview, De Rotalier says that pirate fantasy’s like the one in Black Flag are more compelling when multiplayer is brought into the mix. That might be true, but isn’t it compelling because it was within the Assassin’s Creed universe? I don’t know many other popular pirate games or titles and I don’t think people would have picked up the game if it wasn’t in the AC franchise.

“Creating a new IP gives you the chance to do whatever you want. It’s a way to get more freedom.” – Yves Guillemot

While I agree, having this be a new game does allow Ubisoft a lot of leeway with what they can do with it. It also limits their potential customer base to just gamers who like multiplayer games, and also increases their risk exponentially of getting wrecked in reviews. Remember when Star Wars: Battleground or Titanfall were released and people immediately lambasted them for being nothing more than multiplayer games with few maps and limited content. 

The lack of a single-player option is sometimes enough to a sink game. Call of Duty multiplayer is huge but it’s always connected to an integrated and in depth single-player story line. A lot of players may not even touch it, but I personally really enjoy COD’s single player campaigns and wouldn’t purchase it if they were missing.

Thinking everyone loved Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, a single player game connected to a wider franchise, means everyone will love Skull & Bones, a multiplayer game, because they share a Pirate theme, is a huge leap for Ubisoft and I think short sighted and reckless.

In my personal opinion, Skull & Bone’s hype is just that. The game will die on the vine. Once people realize all they have is a scaled down version of Assassin’s creed without the story-line or the compelling characters, the game will be a major disappointing flop.

The game might be rewarding in the short term (think Titanfall or Evolve), like many of the games you can play at TheBingoOnline site, but do you really see yourself playing a pirate multiplayer game in the long run?

I don’t see myself even touching this game unless it included a single-player mode or is attached to the wider series. 

What do you guys think? Will it be dud or do you fancy playing a pirate multiplayer game?

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Note: This article may include some third-party links. All content in the links belong to their creators. 

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