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Alright, which of you scurvy dogs is averaging ‘over 4 hours’ of daily Skull and Bones playtime?

Skull and Bones, the official pirate simulator of the Singaporean government, is setting sail for season 1 in the wake of its release earlier this month, and Ubisoft is touting some stats to celebrate.

In a press release announcing Skull and Bones’ first season, Ubisoft boasted that the game had achieved “record high player engagement since launch,” which is basically a marketing-speak way of saying that its players are pouring a lot of time into it. Specifically, Ubisoft says the game’s players are putting in “over four hours of average daily playtime, the second highest ever at Ubisoft” which is, I have to be honest, incredibly surprising to me.

I did not enjoy my time with Skull and Bones, and I certainly wasn’t alone in that here at PCG. In his Skull and Bones review, PCG’s Shaun Prescott scored the game 68%, writing that “It doesn’t compare favourably with the ten-year old game that inspired it” and was hamstrung by live-service elements. Robin Valentine found his heart plundered by a different pirate game that released around the same time, and Fraser Brown compiled a whole list of nautical games you’d probably have a better time with.

So I was a tad surprised to hear the game was Ubisoft’s second-top performer when it came to player-hours consumed, but I think there are two key things we need to bear in mind to contextualise that stat. First up is that, well, there’s probably a reason Ubisoft is bragging about “player engagement” and not “player count”. With no hard numbers available I can only speculate, but I’d imagine that the volume of people actually playing Skull and Bones probably isn’t that impressive after the lukewarm reception it got on release.

I’ve reached out to Ubisoft to ask about Skull and Bones’ player count, as well as what the publisher’s number one game for player engagement is (I was curious), and I’ll update this piece if I hear back.

The second thing to bear in mind is that, well, Skull and Bones is designed to suck up hours. Shaun Prescott noted that in PCG’s review, remarking that the game only compared favourably to its forebears if your mark of quality was “the amount of hours it can occupy in one’s life.” With that in mind, it’s less surprising that the diehards who found something to love in the game are spending record hours on the high seas. It’s how the game’s made.

Skull and Bones’ first season is available now. Here’s the trailer that accompanied it.

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