Skull and Bones, Ubisoft’s oft-delayed open-world online pirate video game, is almost here. To celebrate that fact, the game got a fancy new launch trailer. As you might expect for a game originally scheduled to launch less than a year after Obama left the White House, this isn’t its first trailer. Not even close.
Later today (for the Aussies), Skull and Bones will finally be playable for all when it launches its open beta on February 8. And then, a little over a week later, it will be officially released, after a decade of development, promotion, and delays. It was originally meant to be out in 2018. But it missed that date by over five years. And during that long time, Ubisoft had to keep doing what every big AAA publisher must do: Release new trailers and videos for your upcoming game to get people excited. The problem is, after the better part of a decade, Ubisoft has now published 29 videos, trailers, teasers, announcements, and dev diaries.
Finding all the videos Ubisoft has published for Skull and Bones (initially known as Skull & Bones) is a bit tricky. It seems the publisher has tried to scrub some older videos from certain Ubisoft channels and pages, but you can still find videos from 2017 if you look around. I primarily used Ubisoft’s main YouTube account and an inactive North American-focused Ubisoft YouTube channel which had older content.
I counted any video that contained the world trailer or teaser. I also counted gameplay overviews, dev diaries, and videos showcasing endgame content or features. I didn’t count every version of each trailer (Ubisoft uploads in multiple languages for different regions) and I also didn’t count every single promo video for the game, like those showcasing when a celeb was brought in to play, clips uploaded to TikTok/YouTube Shorts, or when the devs did a livestream of the beta.
Even with this criteria in place, I landed at, by my count, 29 videos promoting the game. I think the actual number is probably a bit higher, as at least one playlist Ubisoft created for the pirate sim is missing a video. I imagine others have been removed over time as the game’s messy, extended development—it started life as an Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag DLC in 2013—has led to many, many changes.
Looking through all the promotional videos and trailers, I spotted something funny: It appears that over the last few years, as the hype train has been started up and then shut down for each new delay, Ubisoft has created new spins on the popular publisher genre of “Devs talk about the game in a structured format.” There was The Deck, The Ship Log, and most recently, a new Dev Diary series.
Scrolling through over half a decade of trailers and videos for a single game is wild. You can see Ubisoft tweaking its message, dropping the ampersand, making the logo more bright and colorful, and re-marketing the game as a big open-world pirate thing instead of a gritty PvP-filled historical battle simulator.
I think a lot of triple-A video games get overmarketed and by the time they actually land, after delays and a dozen trailers, it’s hard to not already feel burned out. Skull and Bones might be one of the more egregious recent examples of this, but, as delays piled up, what other option was there but to keep on marketing it? It feels as if I’ve spent a large chunk of my life covering, thinking about, or writing stories on Skull and Bones. And, after looking at almost eight years of trailers, ads, teasers, and dev diaries, it turns out: Yeah. I’ve done exactly that.
Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones finally launches on February 16 on Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and PC. It will be available three days early for those willing to pay a king’s ransom for a deluxe edition.
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