Shiver me timbers, it looks like Ubisoft is working on a television adaptation for its upcoming open-world pirate game, Skull & Bones. Teaming up with Atlas Entertainment, the production company responsible for shows like 12 Monkeys and Dirty John, the show will reportedly be a “female-driven drama set in the lawless frontier of the Indian Ocean at the end of the golden age of piracy in the 1700s”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
It isn’t like Ubisoft is a stranger to cross-media promotion for its games; the Assassin’s Creed franchise has notably spawned comic book and novel spin-offs, and even a major feature film starring Michael Fassbender. Those spin-offs were conceived after the video game franchise had become a massive hit, however; Skull & Bones hasn’t even come out yet. The video game was set to release last year, but has since been delayed to the second half of 2019.
That said, it’s not like there isn’t an audience for pirate-themed content; the success of films like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, shows like Black Sails, and games like Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, demonstrate that audiences will eat up anything that features people in eye-patches making people walk the plank.
On top of this, the addition of a female lead will help set it apart from most male-led pirate stories, and shows that the developers are willing to take some creative risks. Besides, there is rich historical precedent for some badass pirate ladies in real life.
Unfortunately, we don’t have much more information on the show, including when it will actually be released. Ubisoft Director of Development for Television Danielle Kreinik has stated that “Ubisoft is known for creating innovative video games that combine immense worlds with rich narratives”, which hopefully suggests that the mythology and setting of Skull & Bones will be enough to sustain a separate TV show.
This is in addition to other multimedia projects that Ubisoft is working on. This includes the in-development film based on The Division, directed by David Leitch and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain, as well as an animated Assassin’s Creed show produced by Adi Shankah, producer of the Castlevania animated show on Netflix.
There haven’t been many successful adaptations of video game properties to other media (although fingers crossed for Detective Pikachu!). This move at least seems to demonstrate that Ubisoft has enough faith in Skull & Bones that it will be popular enough to sustain interest in a connected TV show. I personally don’t think there can never be too many shows about piracy, and hopefully Skull & Bones can be both a great game AND a great TV show.
Skull & Bones is set to release on PS4, Xbox One and PC sometime in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.