Skull And Bones — A $70 “AAAA” Live-Service Is A New Low, Even For Ubisoft

So far, the game cannot justify this price tag with anything.

Story Highlights

  • Ubisoft believes the live-service Skull and Bones justifies an extra $70, as it’s a “AAAA” game.
  • The fact that the game spent over a decade in development hell full of conflicts is not a good sign.
  • So far, Skull and Bones might have potential, but in no way does it justify $70, being a live service.

Video Games have seen exponential growth, and I’m sure it’s not stopping anytime soon. With this development came some enormous upgrades, but also some less welcome changes. Do you know what I consider the worst element of modern gaming? It’s the live-service model without a doubt. The concept itself is not bad if properly handled, it’s what the game companies have reduced it to recently, a soulless cash grab. 

You wouldn’t see me complaining if there were one or two such games. But unfortunately, as bothersome as it is, it’s equally frequent. Companies continue to pump more and actively support the live-service formula, thinking it’s the future. While we gamers continue to grow more frustrated. Oh, and did I tell you it’s becoming more and more of a blatant cash grab? The latest example to paint this picture is Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones.

YouTube video

Ubisoft Thinks Skull And Bones Is Worth $70

Okay, for a moment let’s say the live service cannot be avoided in a game. I’ll live with that as long as the base game is free. I think the microtransactions are enough to fuel the game, and even if I have no intention of spending, perhaps giving it a try because it’s free might change my mind. Then, I wouldn’t be able to complain that I was forced to do so. It’s a free game; I can drop it anytime if it starts becoming too pay to win.

That would’ve been a very logical scenario and something I can understand. Yet, it seems Ubisoft has completely different plans when it comes to Skull and Bones. In a developer interview, Ubisoft’s CEO said they believe the game is completely worth the insane $70 price tag they’re releasing it with. Not only is it a live-service formula with tons of “making cash” opportunities, but you have to pay a huge fee to even enter this hell.

Not worth 70dollarydoos
byu/walkingdead1282 inSkullAndBonesGame

What’s the reason behind Ubisoft’s side of the argument you ask? Well, the developers believe the price tag is justified because Skull and Bones is an AAAA game. It’s too gigantic in scale and development to be “given away” for free, and thus a hefty price tag is imposed. If the game is so impressive, wouldn’t the live service earnings start speaking for themselves? Why be even more blatant with the money-making attempts?

Skull And Bones’ History Is Reason Enough To Be Skeptical

Before telling you why the game doesn’t seem worth the price, let me tell you a bit about its rocky history and then you’ll see why I’m suspicious. First off, Skull and Bones changed directions more times than I could count at this point. Every few years, the game became different than what it initially was. All these changes give off a feeling of indecisiveness about this project. Even the developers didn’t look sure what they wanted to do.

Skull and Bones started off as a Black Flag expansion
Skull and Bones started off as a Black Flag expansion

It all started as an expansion of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag back in 2013. Soon they decided to “expand” it and then it became a spinoff of Black Flag and an MMO. That wasn’t the final either, and then it even ditched the Black Flag name to become an independent game. This is all that we officially know, there were a lot more shifts and complete changes of direction during this span. The game is nothing now what it was supposed to be.

The game changed the setting, expanded the scope, and outgrew its budget many times. Every time it was close to a release, a different change happened and it got delayed. Reports and developer interviews suggest there were many conflicting ideas involved in the development and the management problems and lack of solid coordination as well as many other internal issues were the reason for all this. So can a game this troubled be trusted with $70?

I don’t want AC Black Flag 2.0 with all the AC stuff in it. But I don’t appreciate paying 70$ for a fraction of a 10 year old game.
byu/prodox inSkullAndBonesGame

Where Is The “AAAA” Stuff?

Now for the crux. Where exactly is all that stuff that makes Skull and Bones a quadruple-A game? The beta is here and you can go through it, I have too. But honestly, I fail to see anything worthy of this big of a claim. I’ll be objective with my assessment. The game does show potential if properly supported down the line, but is it worth the $70 price tag or can be called a “AAAA” game? No, I don’t think that’s true in any way.

I quit Skull and Bones after an hour due to sheer boredom
byu/achilleasa ingaming

I’m genuinely surprised how Ubisoft could fumble on the implementation. It’s the same company that gave us the brilliant Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. I don’t think you can get naval combat and exploration more right than that game. Yet Skull and Bones skips out on some important features. Why’s that? For starters, you’re essentially bound to your ship for almost all of the gameplay scenarios. It’s like playing as a ship.

You cannot board any ship at all. It’s all just a ship-to-ship combat, close-up on the wreckage, and do an awkward QTE to get loot. You can never leave your ship, other than when you fast travel to towns, which happens off-screen, leaving the ship in real-time is not possible. Couple with a repetitive quest design, and the experience is pretty dull. However, credit where due, the naval exploration element and the combat itself are quite enjoyable.

Ship-only restrictions and awkward QTEs don't help the $70 tag
Ship-only restrictions and awkward QTEs don’t help the $70 tag

Is This Another Bad Ubisoft Decision?

Because of its potential enjoyability and some redeeming qualities, I’m not straight-up dismissing it, the game can work. But certainly not as a $70 live-service one. I believe the game just might do good with a F2P model and proper support, but so far the game cannot justify this asking price. And just when I thought Ubisoft’s changing with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. But, it looks like it was one step forward, two steps back.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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