Last week, Ubisoft announced in an emergency meeting with its investors that the company will be cutting around $215 million in costs over the next two years. As a part of these cuts, it was revealed that three unannounced games have been canceled – with four more games announced as canceled last year. As well as these cancellations and in what could be considered an unsurprising announcement, the publisher also revealed that Skull and Bones will be delayed again until FY24 (April 2023 – March 2024).
It’s not uncommon for games to be canceled to reduce costs, but why is Ubisoft delaying and canceling its games at what appears to be an unprecedented rate?
Over the past week or so, I’ve been speaking with five current and former employees at Ubisoft, who have requested to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about company information, to get their thoughts and understanding of what exactly is the reason behind the delays and cancelations.
In a company-wide email sent to employees on January 11 (first reported by Kotaku and seen by Insider Gaming), Ubisoft CEO, Yves Guillemot called on employees to have their “full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success”.
In the email, it was said that the company plans to release “Skull and Bones, AC Mirage, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, and other yet-to-be-announced projects – including one major game – as well as our first AAA mobile games with R6 Mobile and The Division Resurgence”, in FY24.
Following the announcements and as of January 16, Ubisoft stock fell to 20.79 euros – the lowest its been since late 2015. In fact, Ubisoft’s stock now sits at -78% from its all-time high of 94.44 euros in July 2018.
One employee, who said they hadn’t been affected by the current news, revealed that management has seemingly been pushing the narrative that delays have been caused by hybrid and fully remote working, which were adopted during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it was said by the employee it was “early days” for Ubisoft to rectify this issue, the changes currently being discussed would eliminate fully remote work from next year.
The consensus among the employee’s Insider Gaming talked to though, was that the reason for delays and cancellations was that most of the games were “not what gamers wanted”, which was reflected in feedback during QA and playtests. Battle Royale has been a hugely popular genre these past couple of years and Ubisoft has seemingly been trying to capitalize on its success, to no avail. One employee had said they had known of at least a dozen Battle Royale games in various stages of development at one time but didn’t know the fate of most of these games.
A Glimmer of Hope
On a surprising note though, almost all of the employee’s Insider Gaming spoke to had said that the reason behind the delays and cancellations was due to games needing more polish.
One employee said, “We certainly aren’t running short of games, they are just taking forever”. The employee revealed that they’ve been working on an unannounced live-service game since 2019, but the game isn’t forecasted to release until 2025/2026 at the earliest. Other games, which are also yet to be announced, have already been given 2027 or longer release dates.
So moving forward, at least for the current time being, Ubisoft is likely to be known for delaying its games – But fingers crossed it means its games are more polished.
Employees at Ubisoft have told Insider Gaming that Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora are expected to do incredibly well for Ubisoft in FY24, and that follow-up emails and meetings following last Wednesday’s announcements were to “set expectations” of the companies pipeline of content.
Although not yet confirmed, it’s believed that Ubisoft’s yet-to-be-announced major game is likely Project Orlando – Which is a new The Crew title. Assassin’s Creed Project Nexus is also scheduled to release during FY24, too, but technically the game has already been announced.
If you’re a current or former employee at Ubisoft and would like to talk about your experiences, you can contact me anonymously at [email protected]