Ubisoft Cancels Games, Delays Skull And Bones After Rough 2022

Ubisoft held an emergency call with investors on Wednesday to reveal that the company’s 2022 sales had fallen well below expectations and that it would be taking drastic measures going forward, including cancelling three more unannounced games, delaying Skull and Bones a few months yet again, and cutting roughly $215 million in costs over the next two years, with some of the savings coming from a smaller headcount at the over 20,000-person publisher.

“Today more than ever, I need your full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success,” Ubisoft CEO, Yves Guillemot, wrote in an email to staff, a copy of which was viewed by Kotaku. “I am also asking that each of you be especially careful and strategic with your spending and initiatives, to ensure we’re being as efficient and lean as possible.”

Lots of publishers faced game delays during the pandemic, but Ubisoft was hit harder than most. Skull and Bones, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage were all, at one time or another, expected to ship by the end of last year. Guillemot told staff that these delays have “weighed on our costs and decreased our associated revenues.” The company is now projecting a roughly $537 million loss for the fiscal year ending in March 2023.

If you’re a developer at Ubisoft and would like to chat about how today’s announcements will impact your work, my inbox is always open at [email protected] (Signal, WhatsApp and Proton contact info available upon request).

Skull and Bones’ development continues to be the poster child for these sorts of issues at Ubisoft. Emerging from radio silence after a major reboot to finally launch last September, it was pushed at the last minute to March of 2023 to improve and polish the gameplay in response to tester feedback. In recent months, Kotaku understands that a strike team has been setup in Ubisoft’s Paris studio to try and get the game over the finish line. However, the company maintains that Ubisoft Singapore remains the lead studio on the project.

“While Skull and Bones is now complete, we are using the remaining time until our launch to leverage feedback from our ongoing Technical Tests and upcoming open beta to polish and balance the experience,” a spokesperson for Ubisoft told Kotaku in an email. “To fully deliver on this launch we are leveraging the full power of co-developing studios already involved in the development process, including Ubisoft Paris studio. Ubisoft Singapore remains the lead studio on Skull and Bones and the team is working full speed on the game experience and the development of its robust post launch content.”

Though Guillemot told investors during today’s call that the project has been making great progress, and will now launch this spring, it has clearly not made enough to finally ship, coming up on six years after it was first revealed. Whether the game ends up being good or not, current and former developers Kotaku has spoken with as recently as last month are skeptical it can be a major seller.

Guillemot told investors a similar issue with Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope was one of the reasons the company is now forecasting major losses for the year. Despite a big marketing budget and critical acclaim, the game didn’t meet sales expectations coming out of the holiday. Neither did Just Dance 2023, the company’s only other major release last fall, a time of year that would normally have boasted another giant Assassin’s Creed blockbuster.

To deal with the losses, Ubisoft has now cancelled three more unannounced games in addition to the four that were previously cancelled last year. It’s also written off around $537 million of R&D costs associated with upcoming and cancelled games. And the company is planning to slice roughly $215 million in costs from its operating budget over the next two years. “This will be achieved through targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets and usual natural attrition,” the company told investors. “Ubisoft will continue to look at hiring highly talented people for its biggest brands and live services.”

Three current and former Ubisoft developers, who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about company plans, recently told Kotaku that they are already seeing cuts by way of fewer backfills for recently departed colleagues and fewer contracts getting renewed for those working on a temporary basis. They also said there were layoffs across some of Ubisoft’s U.S. locations last fall, including its San Francisco office. A spokesperson for Ubisoft said only 27 positions were eliminated as part of this “restructuring.”

Next fiscal year, which runs through March 2024, Ubisoft said it plans to release at least one additional unannounced big game besides Skull and Bones, Avatar, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage. The CEO called it “the biggest pipeline in Ubisoft history” in his email to staff and said he’s excited to share more at this year’s E3 conference in June.

But to do that it will need to avoid some of the pitfalls that have plagued current and upcoming projects even as it cuts spending. Guillemot laid responsibility for this at the feet of staff, writing, “The ball is in your court to deliver this line-up on time and at the expected level of quality, and show everyone what we are capable of achieving.”


Ubisoft Has Canceled At Least Seven Games In Six Months

In a new financially-focused press release, Ubisoft has confirmed that it has canceled three more unannounced games, meaning that since July 2022 the publisher has now canned at least seven different video games. It’s more bad news for the publisher, who also confirmed that recent games like Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope underperformed during the holiday season.

The last few years have been bad for Ubisoft, as it continues to struggle to improve its reportedly toxic work environment and keeps trying (and failing) to release big games like Skull and Bones, Prince of Persia, and movie tie-in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. The pandemic has also made things harder for the company as it adapts to staff working from home and all the various problems that brings with it. And in a newly posted press from earlier today, Ubisoft explains that to help it weather all of this it has decided to cancel even more games while it lowers its profit targets for the next quarter.

Read More: Ubisoft Delays Skull And Bones, Cancels Games, And Announces New Cuts

Ubisoft says its decision to cancel three more games is to help ensure the company’s energy is “focused on building our brands and live services into some of the most powerful within the industry.” These three games aren’t named in the press release. In an email provided to Kotaku, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot also explained to staff that these projects were canceled to further limit risks and help the company be more profitable in the future.

These three new canceled games join the list of four previously canned Ubisoft titles, including two Tom Clancy games: Free-to-play shooter Ghost Recon Frontline and a VR Splinter Cell project. That brings the total of canceled games since July up to seven and that’s just what we know publicly.

What Games Are Ubisoft Still Working On?

So what games are still actually coming from Ubisoft as we head into 2023? Well, surprisingly a lot, even after these seven canceled projects.

There’s Skull and Bones, Ubisoft’s troubled and long-in-development online pirate game, which did get delayed again today as announced in this same press release. So that’s probably, one day, I think going to launch. Maybe? Beyond that Ubisoft has two Avatar games in the works—one for mobile and a bigger, console and PC game, too. It also has a mobile port of Rainbow Six Siege that should release sooner than later.

Then there’s a ton of Assassin’s Creed stuff planned to release over the next few years, like the stealth-focused spin-off, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, set to launch this year. Another one is Assassin’s Creed Project Red which is set in Japan and the spin-off Assassin’s Creed Codename Jade, a “triple A” mobile game set in China. No specific release date for either. Oh let’s not forget that apparently that Prince of Persia remake is still happening as well as the barely-talked-about Splinter Cell remake, too.

Of course, with Ubisoft’s recent track record and games becoming harder and more expensive to develop each year, it’s likely many of these upcoming projects will—like so many other video games—get delayed at least once or twice. And that’s assuming they aren’t just canceled outright and get added to Ubisoft’s growing list of canned games.

Beyond Good & Evil 2 Still In Development, Claims Ubisoft

After Ubisoft recently announced they had been swinging the axe Barbarian-style, it was assumed by many that any hope of the infinitely-delayed Beyond Good & Evil 2 could now be put to rest. Seven games were canned in the last six months, along with yet another delay for the beleaguered Skull & Bones, while other big titles have failed to meet expectations. But, insists Ubisoft, for some reason BG&E2 is still being made.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Ubisoft told the site, “Beyond Good and Evil 2‘s development is under way and the team is hard at work to deliver on its ambitious promise.” Which is a very vague statement indeed.

BG&E2 was announced an extraordinary fifteen years ago, and throughout has been thought abandoned, then re-announced, forgotten about again, given an E3 video that looks nothing like anything to do with Beyond Good & Evil, disappeared once more, and so on.

Creator Michel Ancel, who was also responsible for creating Rayman, would occasionally pop up to declare the game in a new phase of development, before ultimately popping off entirely in 2020 to spend more time with his wildlife sanctuary—coincidentally only moments before it was revealed he was being investigated for toxic behavior at his studio.


Many of the problems with the creation of the game were levelled at Ancel’s leadership style, according to a report by French outlet, Libération. However, despite his leaving over two years ago, there has been not a glimmer of footage under its new leadership. Despite the announcement that former Blizzard writer Sarah Arellano had joined the project in August last year, there still seemed very little reason to believe it was happening.

But not so, say Ubisoft, whom we’ve contacted to ask for more details. Although the question we haven’t asked is: why? Why bother now? 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil was a truly wonderful game, offering a gentle mix of third-person platforming, wildlife photography, and a genuinely lovely story. But that was two decades ago, and everything we’ve seen of the supposed sequel in the years since has felt severely tonally different—and mysteriously obsessed with monkeys. Epic and expensive-looking CGI trailers have been great to watch, but suggested nothing of the actual game, while 2018’s in-game pre-alpha footage looked dated and incomprehensively bland.


It feels to me like that saddest of projects: a game that exists to exist, with no visibly greater motivation to be. As a huge fan of the original game, I once longed for a sequel, but not any more. And especially not given how everything that’s been shown of it—from its ridiculous Starfield-like over-ambition to its f-bomb-filled bullshot CGI videos—has felt like it has nothing at all to do with the game I loved.

Still, it seems vanishingly unlikely that we’ll ever be troubled by its being released.

Ubisoft Employees Asked To Strike Over CEO’s Comments, Pay

Ubisoft hasn’t had the best couple of years. A string of flops and disappointments means the company isn’t in the best shape as it heads into 2023, so in an attempt to get everyone firing last week CEO Yves Guillemot sent an email to staff telling them “The ball is in your court”. It did not go down well.

It was, in fact, about as bad as one of these emails can get, doing everything from blaming workers for poor results to advocating for extra work. As a result, the union Solidaires Informatique—which has members at Ubisoft’s Paris offices—has called for a strike next week.

The union is calling the strike to not only protest Guillemot’s dismissive comments, but to also call for better pay and conditions at the company, in particular a 10% payrise to account for the inflation crisis and the implementation of a four-day working week.

Here’s their statement in full:



According to Guillemot:


(but the money stays in his pocket)

In his latest statement, Mr. Guillemot announces a worrying future for Ubisoft.

If the request to employees to be “especially careful and strategic with your spending” is ironic considering the company’s editorial strategy of the last few years, it is not funny. When Mr. Guillemot speaks of “attrition” and “organizational adjustments”, it means: staff reductions, discreet studio closures, salary cuts, disguised layoffs, etc.

On several occasions, Mr. Guillemot is trying to shift the blame (once again) onto the employees; he expects us to be mobilized, to “give it our all”, to be “as efficient and lean as possible”. These words mean something: overtime, managerial pressure, burnout, etc.

Mr. Guillemot asks a lot from his employees, but without any compensation. • Have salaries kept up with the high inflation of recent years?

• What about the implementation of the 4-day week?

• What has been put in place for the teams that come out of the productions exhausted (like those of Just Dance or Mario)?

We demand:

– an immediate 10% increase for all salaries, regardless of annual increases, to compensate for inflation. With the hundreds of millions of euros obtained from Tencent, there is money in the coffers of the employers.

– the improvement of working conditions, with in particular the implementation of the 4-day week.

– transparency on the evolution of the workforce, both locally and globally.

– a strong commitment against disguised dismissals and a condemnation of abusive managerial policies that push employees to resign.

And because Mr. Guillemot and his clique only understand the relationship of power, Solidaires Informatique is calling on the employees of Ubisoft Paris to go on strike on Friday 27 January in the afternoon, from 2 to 6 pm.

Next fiscal year, which runs through March 2024, Ubisoft said it plans to release at least one additional unannounced big game besides Skull and Bones, Avatar, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Guillemot calls it “the biggest pipeline in Ubisoft history” in his email to staff and said he’s excited to share more at this year’s E3 conference in June.

Update 1/20/2023 3:12 p.m. ET: Guillemot was set to meet staff at Ubisoft’s Paris studio in a face-to-face Q&A meeting on Thursday but cancelled, two sources familiar with the event told Kotaku. It would have come a day after the CEO apologized for his earlier “ball is in your court” comment in a companywide townhall.

The planned Paris studio visit was also the same day more than a million people flooded the city’s streets in a striker’s march protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise France’s retirement age by two years to 64. A source said the march was the reason why the Q&A was cancelled. Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment.

Assassin’s Creed Black Flag And Origins Director Leaves Ubisoft

Veteran Assassins’ Creed developer Jean Guesdon announced he’s leaving Ubisoft after 17 years on Thursday. A creative director on some of the most beloved entries in the franchise including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, his is the latest high-profile departure at a publisher currently struggling to overcome delays and cancellations.

“Hello everyone, 2023 will start for me with the end of a bit more than 17 formidable years at Ubisoft Montreal,” Guesdon posted on LinkedIn today. “I can’t express how much I owe to this unique company. So many people met, so many skills learned and so many projects shipped. And Assassin’s Creed, of course Assassin’s Creed.”

He thanked the company and signed the note with a smiling emoji, but didn’t hint at where he might be headed next. Up until now, Guesdon had spent the last five years as creative director on an undisclosed game at Ubisoft Montreal. Kotaku understands it to be codenamed Renaissance, a collaborative voxel-based game with shades of Minecraft. Three former Ubisoft developers with knowledge of the project told Kotaku they considered it to be one of the more promising ones in the pipeline at the company, though it’s unclear how Guesdon leaving might affect it.

Ubisoft recently cancelled several unannounced projects alongside broader cost-cutting measures as it seeks to refocus attention and resources on some of its bigger and more established franchises. Guesdon declined to comment.

“We thank Jean for his strong creative vision, openness, ideas, and most of all, his ability to put himself ‘in the shoes’ of our players in his contributions to Ubisoft,” a spokesperson for the company told Kotaku in a statement. “We wish him well as he moves on to his next chapter.”

Starting at Ubisoft as a project coordinator on the original Assassin’s Creed, Guesdon rose up the ranks to game designer on Assassin’s Creed 2 and later head of content for the franchise. Most notably, he was a creative director on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Origins alongside Ashraf Ismail (who now works at Tencent after being fired from Ubisoft over misconduct allegations).

Back in 2018, Guesdon provided an overview to Kotaku of how Ubisoft managed to produce a massive new Assassin’s Creed game almost every year, a process that involved multiple lead studios and a vast network of support offices. More recently, the franchise has taken longer in-between new entries, with Ubisoft instead prolonging the post-launch life of each one through tons of DLC and seasonal updates.

Guesdon’s resignation, though seemingly amicable, comes at a time when some within Ubisoft are worried about the publisher’s ability to attract and retain veteran talent. Axios reported on an “exodus” of developers in 2021, including “AC lifers” like game director Eric Baptizat and franchise art director Raphael Lacoste. Baptizat is now at EA Motive, while Lacoste is now at Haven, newer Montreal game studios both founded by another Ubisoft veteran, Jade Raymond.

Not everyone is leaving though, and at a recent internal all-hands chief people officer Anika Grant told staff that attrition among senior developers at the company had steadily fallen back down in recent months. Some developers, like longtime Assassin’s Creed narrative director Darby McDevitt, have even returned. Last fall, Ubisoft revealed that multiple new Assassin’s Creed games are on the horizon, alongside mobile spinoffs and a Netflix adaption.

Update 2/9/23 4:18 p.m. ET: Added comment from Ubisoft.


Ubisoft Punishes 19,000 Accounts That Used Mysterious Exploit

Ubisoft has placed sanctions on nearly 19,000 accounts for using an unspecified exploit, the Rainbow Six Siege developer revealed rather cryptically on Twitter earlier today.

“Recently we have identified accounts making use of a fraudulent exploit within our titles,” the Ubisoft Support Twitter account wrote. “Ubisoft has a zero tolerance policy against fraudulent practices as per our Code of Conduct. As a result, we will be applying account level sanctions on the nearly 19k accounts involved.”

Kotaku reached out for clarification on which titles were affected by the exploit, but did not hear back in time for publication. The Support Twitter didn’t respond to users’ requests for more specifics, either, though Rainbow Six players speculate it was their game that was subject to mysterious “fraudulent practices” in the form of “duping.”

“Duping” is a fun way to refer to the duplicate glitches Rainbow Six players have been taking advantage of for at least eight yearsa recent version involves linking and unlinking Xbox accounts to save multiple iterations of the same skin. When one version of the exploit supposedly goes down, another one pops up, often getting people copies of expensive Elite skins for free.

It’s not the most egregious cheat, I don’t think, but people have been getting banned for using it for as long as it’s been around, and it’s possible that Ubisoft has decided to finally get strict in its crackdowns. Also possible and also concerning Rainbow Six, Ubisoft developers said earlier this week that it would seriously discourage input spoofing (using an adapter to disguise your mouse and keyboard as an imprecise controller) with an initiative they’re cutely calling “Mousetrap.”

“We wanted to build our own system that would sniff out mouse and keyboard players on console so that we could build a better picture of who is using these devices,” gameplay programming lead Jan Stahlhacke said during Rainbow Six’s Year 8 Season 1 reveal panel. “We have been really quiet about it, but, actually, it’s been running in the background in shadow mode for several seasons. We’ve been gathering data and analyzing the results, and now we have a much better picture.”

So Ubisoft’s proud 19,000 sanctions could be the ripe fruit of that labor. But without any confirmation from Ubisoft itself, there’s no way to know. The sanctions might not even involve Rainbow Six at all—maybe 19,000 players got flagged for loving the company’s version of Uno, which has been crashing on Xbox for the past two years, too much.


Ubisoft Proudly Announces An ‘AI’ Is Helping Write Dialogue

Ubisoft, the publishers behind Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Ghost Recon, tonight announced that an “AI tool” is currently helping its developers write dialogue for some of its games.

This tool, called Ghostwriter, is described as:

Introducing Ubisoft Ghostwriter, an AI tool developed in-house that aims to support our scriptwriters by generating the first draft of our NPC barks – the phrases or sounds made by NPCs when players interact with the game world.

This tool was created hand-in-hand with scriptwriters to create more realistic NPC interactions by generating variations on a piece of dialogue See how our teams will use AI to handle repetitive tasks, and free up time to work on other core game elements.

The trailer below, which goes out of its way (for obvious reasons) to say that it’s there “to save scriptwriters time”, provides a rundown of how it works:

Ubisoft is Developing an AI Ghostwriter to Save Scriptwriters Time

I have this problem all over the place at the moment, but I’m going to call it out specifically here: calling this tool “artificial intelligence” imbues it with an underserved sense of awe and respect stemming from our association of the term with examples from science fiction. It’s wildly inaccurate—this stuff is machine learning, not AI, there’s a difference—but calling it “AI” is exactly what its creators (and chief profiteers) would like us to think.

Maybe this will save time? I don’t know, I’m not an Ubisoft writer, and the video above says the tech was created in consultation with the company’s “narrative teams”. Some in the field have certainly had some positive takes on the news.

On a personal level, though, I don’t care how annoying the game is, or how repetitive the soundbytes, I would prefer bad lines written entirely by humans over optimised lines originally written by a machine 100 times out of 100. Even if I couldn’t tell, I’d just prefer it on a psychological basis. Humans can be weird like that. 

Ubisoft Is The Latest Major Publisher To Abandon E3

The E3 2023 logo splits apart in front of a purple background.

Image: ReedPop / Kotaku

Ubisoft has confirmed that the company won’t be attending E3 2023 in Los Angeles this summer. This is a reversal for the publisher, as it confirmed last month that it would be attending the annual trade show. It now joins other large video game companies, like Microsoft, in skipping the upcoming E3 event.

Debuting in Atlanta in 1995, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) quickly established itself as the most important video game trade show in the world, attracting hundreds of game developers and publishers from around the globe to come to Los Angeles for a weekend to show off upcoming games and gaming-related hardware. However, in the years leading up to the covid-19 pandemic, the show’s importance had started to decline, with some companies skipping it or barely attending. In 2020 E3 was canceled, and since then the show has struggled to survive and remain relevant. And now, as Ubisoft confirms it won’t be part of the event this year, it doesn’t look good for the ol’ Electronic Expo.

First reported by VGC, Assassin’s Creed, and Rainbow Six publisher Ubisoft has confirmed it will completely skip June’s E3 2023 event. In a statement to Kotaku, Ubisoft said it was going to continue “in a different direction” and would now instead hold a Ubisoft Forward event in L.A on June 12, right before E3.

Here’s the rest of Ubisoft’s statement.

E3 has fostered unforgettable moments across the industry throughout the years. While we initially intended to have an official E3 presence, we’ve made the subsequent decision to move in a different direction, and will be holding a Ubisoft Forward Live event on 12th June in Los Angeles. We look forward to sharing more details with our players very soon.

Kotaku has reached out to E3 organizer and owner ReedPop.

E3 2023 is set to start on June 13. This will be the first physical instance of the trade show since 2019. The event was canned in 2020 due to the pandemic, went digital-only in 2021, and was canceled in 2022 entirely. With confirmation from Microsoft and Nintendo (and reports that Sony) won’t be attending the show either, people are starting to wonder who will actually be a part of the upcoming event when (and if) it happens a few months from now.

Ubisoft Dumps Influencer Over Racist Rainbow Six Siege ‘Jokes’

Castle from Rainbow Six Siege

Screenshot: Ubisoft

Streamer Thaqil, a Rainbow Six Siege player who publishers Ubisoft at some point deemed important enough to commemorate with an in-game item, has been dumped by the company after making a series of racist jokes on TikTok.

As NME report, in a series of videos posted on the site—since deleted—Thaqil made a number of comments about Castle, a black character in the game:

In one video, Thaqil listed Castle as a Siege operator whose name began with N. In a second, the content creator said he would “avoid” Castle in a “Kiss, Marry Avoid” game, and claimed “I think it’s quite obvious, it’s because he’s black”.

Another video showed the streamer posing with a banana under Castle’s Siege icon.

He also made a video referencing Castle and the N-word, which Thaqil explained as “a tiktok challenge where I had to name an operator as quickly as possible based on the random letter that appeared on screen. ie. L for Lion or Lesion etc. The letter N appeared on screen and I stated ‘Castle’”.

After his comments were picked up on social media Ubisoft were quick to act, saying “Thaqil’s recent posts on social media are in breach of Ubisoft’s Code of Conduct” and that “As a result, Thaqil will no longer be part of our content creators program and his charm will be removed from Rainbow Six Siege”.

Thaqil responded to his dismissal by posting a message on Twitter, in which he explains each attempt at a “joke” in detail before admitting:

I will be honest, I knew what I was doing when it came to those challenges and knew the joke that I was about to make.

My intent was to never be taken literally or promote racism in anyway but now looking back, that’s kinda what I did so I apologise. My main objective was to be edgy and make people laugh but I now realise that my attempt on humour may come across as insensitive and offensive, for that I am truly sorry.

Toxic Rainbow Six Siege Player Sentenced For Swatting Ubisoft

An operator smashes a wall with a hammer in Rainbow Six Siege.

Image: Ubisoft

The player responsible for a 2020 swatting incident at Ubisoft Montreal has been sentenced in French court to three years of community service, the Montreal Gazette reports. The player called in a hostage situation at the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry studio leading to a lockdown and raid by police, all seemingly because he had been banned from Rainbow Six Siege dozens of times.

The 22-year old gamer, Yanni Ouahioune, who went by Y4nnOXX online, called in the threat on November 13, 2020, leading to an hours-long showdown where developers at Ubisoft and others at the Montreal building that houses it sought refuge in fear that an armed shooter was loose. It wasn’t until later that the source of the emergency call was revealed to be a hoax.

“One of the worst experiences of my life,” tweeted one current Ubisoft developer following the news of Ouahioune’s sentencing.

According to a 2021 report by La Presse, the angry gamer attacked the company because he had been banned from Rainbow Six Siege roughly 80 times. “I have put over $1,500 in cosmetic enhancements in my profile,” he claimed at the time. Ouahioune also recently pleaded guilty to a DDoS attack against a French government office and threats made against Minecraft maker Mojang.

He will reportedly be required to compensate victims in some way and undergo treatment as part of his community service sentence. It was revealed during the court proceedings that Ouahioune was receiving psychiatric treatment prior to the Ubisoft swatting and other incidents.

“In this trial we were committed to representing the interests of our employees who were affected by this false hostage-taking alert at our Montreal studio,” Magali Valence, director of external communication for Ubisoft Montreal, told the Montreal Gazette. “It was important for us to denounce this violent and unacceptable incident.”

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