Launching a game across five different gaming platforms can be a huge undertaking. Such a thing becomes even more monumental when it's a brand new IP, like Watch Dogs. Nevertheless, Ubisoft managed to pull off a seemingly impossible feat by riding a hype train of graphical debates following Watch Dogs' six month delay in order to hit a huge first week of sales.
GameSpot is reporting that Ubisoft sent out word that the open-world hacktion game moved 4 million units for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC in just under a week.
Ubisoft marketing executive Tony Key stated that...
"With such strong sales momentum and positive feedback from gamers, Watch Dogs has positioned itself as the must-have game of the moment," .... "We're really proud of this achievement, and are confident that the Watch Dogs brand has a promising future."
The article notes that Ubisoft has a 6 million unit lifetime sales margin for the open-world title – to be exact it's a 6.3 million expectation riding on the hack-and-run game. But as we all know, sales slow down drastically for games two weeks following their release, unless it's Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin's Creed or Grand Theft Auto.
New IP continuing to sell big and sell strong is usually reliant on how much hype it can maintain and how well it can keep its marketplace presence. In the case of Watch Dogs, it may be difficult for the game to keep up the sales momentum when there are so many reviews out there that are like a cup of milk that happened to sit under a light for about an hour; lukewarm, to say the least.
Of course, reviews don't really sell games. Hype sells games. In this case, Watch Dogs just needs to stay relevant in the hype circles to keep moving units, as gamers will want to see if the game is worth their time just because everyone else is talking about it, like Glenn Beck.
My biggest concern is what happens if 2015 rolls around and Watch Dogs sits at like 5.9 million units sold or falls shy of its market estimates by 300,000 units or so? Will Ubisoft pitch to investors with confidence that Watch Dogs could turn into a bi-annual franchise or do they let the brand temper and come back a few years later after building up some more hype?
Another thing: Watch Dogs set a very strange benchmark for the Xbox One and PS4 when it comes to open-world games. A lot of gamers left the experience with a sour taste in their mouth, and not because of bugs or glitches, but because they felt that the game barely surpassed the visuals and interactivity of GTA V on the seventh-gen twins.
This has caused gamers to ask if Watch Dogs represents a technical ceiling for the Xbox One and PS4 that's being hit early on for open-world titles? Or, can we expect to see more growth for games that aren't ball-and-chained to a cross-gen release?
If for nothing else, Watch Dogs definitely opened up a lot of conversation about the trends that could shape eighth-gen gaming.