Why Was Watch Dogs Delayed? Ubisoft Explains

By William Usher 2014-03-07 14:23:02 discussion comments
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[Update: Find out why the Wii U version was delayed]

Watch Dogs was originally set to drop last year in October. It was going to be Ubisoft's new Assassin's Creed; an usher into a new genre and brand of dynamic open-world gameplay. That didn't happen. Watch Dogs was delayed.

Fast-forward to yesterday, and Eurogamer posted an article based on a interview they conducted with Ubisoft Montreal's creative director, Jonathan Morin, who explained exactly why the game was delayed.

A bunch of gamers were pissed to find out that Ubisoft moved back the release of Watch Dogs from its late 2013 window, but Morin says it was for the best...
"When you're promising a player that they can hack everything and express themselves, they expect the result to be there," ... "A complicated game that is broken is no more acceptable than an easier one that works."

In other words, some of the gameplay mechanics weren't wonky, janky, DayZ-ish, and they wanted to make sure that they came out of the gate swinging for the fences, not scuffling with a still ball, hoping to recoup production costs on hype and a couple of decent E3 stage presentations.

Morin went on to say that...
"Our biggest goal [with the E3 reveal] was to suggest something new. We knew that there was a fatigue - we were part of that fatigue too - of playing the same things. It was a safe market, the last couple of years. It's often the case at the end of the cycle but it was particularly true that time. We were excited, frightened, to show the game so early but Ubisoft had a point, I think - that people wanted to see something different."

I think there was also a strong sense of new generation immersion showcased in the E3 videos. We saw things like the rustling of environmental objects from brisk winds, as well as cars and the environment in the surrounding areas being affected by loud explosions. It felt immersive. It looked immersive. Gamers thought they were getting something that was more true-to-form than another GTA clone with hacking.

However, Jonathan explains that Ubisoft understood their vision... their goal... their promise. They believed in him like he believed in Watch Dogs. The only thing was, they needed more time to bring together those elements and solidify the gameplay more than anything else, stating that...
To be quite frank with you," ... "and this may seem like political bulls***, but Ubisoft offers a combination of things I don't know if I could find anywhere else."

"I pitch games to designers," ... "I'm not pitching a concept to businessmen - which would make my pitch different. I wouldn't like it. So when we arrive at such a big decision [as the delay] there are a lot of people high up who already have all of my bullet points before I've even sent them. The fact that they understood that meant all I had to say was 'I agree'."

For those who may not get it. He's talking about the fact that Ubisoft's upper-management all have taste buds for game design. They know the drill. They understand the climate. Pitching a delay to designers who also happen to be managers, actually worked in the design team's favor, as the Ubisoft higher-ups agreed the game needed more refinement.

He also speaks highly of Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft's CEO, since he's the guy who has to explain to shareholders why a game isn't being shipped broken out of the box, sort of the way things are handled at a rival AAA publishing studio. Morin states that...
"I didn't have to go to Yves and say 'I need you to spend more money on Watch Dogs!'" ... "Ubisoft isn't that kind of company.

"I have to give credit to him. I don't know many people who would have said that based on systemic gameplay stuff. A lot of people would have said 'who cares? who will find that? nine players out of 10 won't get there!' even if it wasn't true just to get the game made faster."

Well I sure hope this is the truth and I sure hope that the game doesn't turn out janky. Hopefully the delay was to do what Morin says and not just take things out, optimize and down-scale for the eighth gen consoles. It would be a real shame if that were the case.

Watch Dogs is set for release on May 27th for the old-gen consoles, the new gen consoles and PC.


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