Ubisoft wants Skull & Bones playtesters, but be wary


I was just shocked to hear Skull & Bones is still holding on

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for pirate media. I might be a more casual fan than most, but when it comes to swashbuckling adventure, I’m always down. That’s why I’ve been quietly listening to news of Skull & Bones over the past five years, and although I’m still quite skeptical of how the game will turn out, I’m holding out hope that it will deliver the pirate adventure I’ve been craving since Sea of Thieves.

After a long stretch of radio silence, Ubisoft updated us last month with their financial report, letting us know that the game is still in development, and apparently, that it’s going quite well. I’ll believe it when I see it, though, because Ubisoft Singapore, the studio helming Skull & Bones’ development, has had its fair share of controversies come to light over the past few years, from workplace toxicity to sexual harassment claims.

In spite of all of that, Skull & Bones has somehow survived development hell and continued forward, so much so that Ubisoft has announced they’re looking for playtesters to try out the game in something they’re dubbing the Insider Program, an “on-going live testing initiative.”

We are kicking off our Insider Program, a unique opportunity for a selected few to test early versions of Skull and Bones & share feedback. Apply now if you think you have what it takes!

— Skull & Bones (@skullnbonesgame) March 9, 2022

Applications are open for everyone, and based on the website it looks like pretty standard fare as far as beta testing goes — they want players “testing and reporting issues, bugs, or just general feedback.”

Personally, I think branding a playtest is kind of a weird choice, because players usually jump at the chance to be a part of beta testing in the first place.

At the risk of sounding a bit conspiratorial, part of me worries that this is a slippery slope of using hype and fandom to get free labor. This is all speculation, of course, but there’s something about the specifics of wanting fans who have an interest in game development, as well as wanting them to have “plenty of time to allocate to testing and reporting issues” that makes me feel icky, because that’s what QA is for.

It’s certainly a gray area, but I wouldn’t put it past Ubisoft to try and pull something unsavory. Stay vigilant, Skull & Bones hopefuls.