Watch Dogs won't be a launch title for the PS4 and Xbox One. Ubisoft has announced this morning that they're delaying the open-world game's release on all platforms, including current-gen consoles and PC.
"Our ambition from the start with Watch Dogs has been to deliver something that embodies what we wanted to see in the next-generation of gaming. It is with this in mind that we’ve made the tough decision to delay the release until spring 2014," reads a statement from the development team.
It's surprising that Ubisoft waited this long to announce the delay. We're only about a month out from the game's planned launch. Ubisoft says that they "struggled" with the decision.
"But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience."
Watch Dogs isn't short on ambition. The single-player open-world experience is supplemented by a drop-in/drop-out multiplayer in which one player tries to hack into another player's phone. What's more, Ubisoft is developing the game for the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U in addition to next-gen platforms. With such a large game and so many platforms, it's not surprising that Ubisoft found some rough edges that they want to smooth out.
This fall is loaded with plenty of big releases but Watch Dogs' absence will be missed. It was one of the few launch titles for new consoles that wasn't a sequel. It sure looked great, too. The game most resembles an open-world Deus Ex, with players using stealth, hacking and combat skills to take down Chicago's most wicked citizens. I've been excited since it was first revealed at E3 2012.
I believe Ubisoft when they say they want more time to polish the game - what development team doesn't? What's more, Ubisoft seems to be expecting this game to grow into another franchise. In order to for a new IP like this to get strong sales, it's going to need great reviews. The trailer for the current-gen versions of the game received some criticism and I'm wondering whether shoring up the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions will be one of their goals for the months ahead.
You have to wonder whether Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag played a role in the delay at all. AC4 is due this fall and is also an open-world game. Did Ubisoft think that AC4 would cannibalize the sales of Watch Dogs, or vice versa?