Ubisoft on Watch Dogs delay -- "We had no choice"

Marketing executive Tony Key says delaying the open-world game six months was the "right thing to do."

In a new interview, Ubisoft marketing executive Tony Key recalls the publisher's decision to delay its high-profile open-world game Watch Dogs and explains what impact it had on the company. The delay caused financial hardship for Ubisoft, but it was the only possible course of action, Key says.

"This is not an easy decision to make for any company. On the day we announced that, I think our stock dropped 40 percent or some ridiculous number," Key told the [a]list daily. "We've recovered since because people are seeing the rest of our lineup and it turns out maybe it was a good idea."

"We had no choice. We knew it was the right thing to do, but it doesn't make it hurt any less" -- Ubisoft's Tony Key on the Watch Dogs delay

"We had no choice, despite the fact that it put us in a tough financial position in the short term. We're a long-term company, with a long-term vision, and Watch Dogs for us is a long-term play," he added. "We had no choice. We knew it was the right thing to do, but it doesn't make it hurt any less."

Key went on to say that games have their own unique sets of challenges, because they are a mix between technology and art. Compounding this is the fact that Watch Dogs is an all-new brand running on new technology--the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Ubisoft's other tentpole franchise, Assassin's Creed, has been annualized since 2009, so the publisher has experience bringing this product to market every fall. The same can't be said for Watch Dogs.

"The Assassin's Creed team has gotten so much experience now in working on a schedule that they've found that delicate balance of being able to put their heart and soul into the game and still making a schedule work," Key said. "But a new brand, as you've seen time and time again from publishers everywhere, it's very difficult to make that work."

Watch Dogs' delay came just one month before its then-release date of November 18. Delaying the title this late in the game led to numerous marketing challenges, Key said.

"The decision was made very late, and we were rolling along in a lot of areas on the marketing side. Any time a game slips, there are marketing inefficiencies," Key said. "We are still executing, for the most part, the plan that we had had. It was a lot of late nights and crazy reactions to putting everything on hold at the last minute. It's the least of our problems to put marketing on hold, compared to getting the game right, but it's a lot of work for a marketing team when something like that moves. You have to reallocate all your resources on a new schedule, you've got your retailers to deal with, who are already running marketing for your game in some cases. Slips like that are incredibly inefficient."

Had Watch Dogs met its original November 2013 date, the game's Xbox One and PS4 versions would have benefited from the buzz of the new consoles, Key said. But at the same time, the extra six months has also meant that more people have become aware of the game, and this is evidenced in the fact that preorders are up, Key said.

Watch Dogs launches May 27 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PS4, and PC. The Wii U version is coming sometime later. For more on Watch Dogs, be sure to read our previous coverage.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

130 comments
Kalifornia
Kalifornia

Game Delay?  That's something EA/DICE knows nothing about.

kik4444
kik4444

I just hope that because of this delay, the game is now better than what it would've been if it released back in October 2013

labub_007
labub_007

no matter how much delayed this game is, the first E3 2012 footage can never be achieved!!

isshiah
isshiah

Ahhh, from the title, I thought it had been delayed again. Haha nearly had a stroke.

Apofis_SG-1
Apofis_SG-1

Oh. This game has Rise Against songs. I like it even more now. I just hope my garbage can run this game atleast on low. It could run Assassins Creed IV, so there is still hope for me right? RIGHT?

HipHopBeats
HipHopBeats

Of course they had to delay Watch Dogs. Not as many people would have bought Black Flag if they didn't. Plus Ubi needed more time to figure out what game content to cut and include in the season pass.

will_no
will_no

We're a long-term company, with a long-term vision, and Watch Dogs for us is a long-term play


Translation: We hope to copypasta this game multiple times for sequels and spinoffs.


New IP is dangerous territory for a company that makes 90% of it's profit from reused code and sequels.

pagemaster22193
pagemaster22193

All of you saying that they didn't release it because of GTA five? Did you ever consider it might have been because of The Baatlefield 4 fiasco and the legal shitstorm EA was enduring because of it? Maybe because watch dogs really wasn't working right

jako998
jako998

Lying ass MFs.. They didn't want to release it because of GTA 5.

rob19ny
rob19ny

Of course they had no choice.....GTA5.

nousername66
nousername66

They were afraid to release it so close to the GTA5 release

hellzicke
hellzicke

you lost me at "day one DLC"

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

I'd rather be excited for a game for another six months, than be disappointed by a crock of broken shit 6 months too early.

That being said it would be salt in the wound somewhat if it is still a crock of shit after the further six months :( !

dadkwashere
dadkwashere

As long as the delay is for the purpose of making the game even better, you'll get no complaints from me.

After Sonic 06, Assassins Creed III release near doomsday, and ME3 rushed resulting in lackluster ending I can afford the wait.

kkrakhed
kkrakhed

It's probably because Rockstar threatened to sue Ubisoft because they saw something they didn't like.  If this game comes out and it's not a carbon copy of GTA i'd be very surprised.  And you know Rockstar's lawyers are just waiting to see what Ubisoft releases and how close it mirrors GTA.  Press 'A' to hack!

YEPEE00
YEPEE00

ah...ok, this looks really good. i wonder if it is gonna be a series?

Vodoo
Vodoo

Even though I haven't played it yet, this game feels like old news already, like it's been out for a year already.

Vodoo
Vodoo

How much of a significant difference could 6 months make with a game that scale?

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

They probably had to make sure the menus were working.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Good story, but I liked it more the first time this story came out weeks or months ago (I forget when).  Is this story going to come out gain on launch week of Watch Dogs?

VandersonAssis
VandersonAssis

For christ sake give brazillians a litte more bandwidth, I can't fucking watch a single video without freezing. Funny that it doesn't happen when watching to your stupid advertisings!

eddieham13
eddieham13

@robertoenrique Rockstar eats a lot of companies for breakfast, what's your point. Everyone should just play GTA and never buy anything else?

trotz75
trotz75

I wouldn't wish cancer on my worst enemy

dischead710
dischead710

@shoemaker2004  You must have no life if you get so worked up over a GAME.  Or is it the pre-teen hormones finally kicking in?

moldyspud
moldyspud

@shoemaker2004 I have to agree with you... Pretty sick of games with DLC purposely not including an ending anymore. That used to be what games were all about getting the sweet ending, but now it never ends and no loose ends are ever really tied up because every single game has to be a yearly release that never ends. I totally agree that DLC is the worst thing to happen to gaming. It's all because those marketing jerks took over how gaming is presented so now there are in game shops and we have to be connected to the internet all the time, and we have to spend our money constantly after we already gave them 60$ for what? A game that has no story...??


I buy games that aren't always online, DLC crap, I don't even download the others. Why waste my time... it won't have an ending.

pagemaster22193
pagemaster22193

No one's making you buy the DLC or the season pass. It's not like it's mandatory in order to play the game.

WolfgarTheQuiet
WolfgarTheQuiet

@HipHopBeats  Hahaha true. Financial hardship...give me a fucking break, just more hype for the game. Will probably be worse than GTA V which also wasn't that good, first GTA i finished and never touched again

master20234
master20234

@kkrakhed Well Square Enix didn't have any problems with Sleeping Dogs.....that I know of at least.

YEPEE00
YEPEE00

@kkrakhed  i think that would be determined by how much you play as the "Watchdog" or the bad guy. to put it in generic terms. 

HipHopBeats
HipHopBeats

@YEPEE00 Expect Watch Dogs 2 in sometime in Fall 2015 early 2016. Ubi is working on it right now for the past 3 years.

will_no
will_no

@YEPEE00  Everything Ubisoft does they hope to turn into a series, so yeah.

TheKokopelli
TheKokopelli

@Vodoo  I can't help but feel the same.  I haven't cancelled my pre-order, but this better be pushing the above 90% on the reviews, or at least the high 80s for me to keep it.  I'll never forget the fiasco surrounding Duke Nukem Forever.


I couldn't legally buy booze when that was announced, and when it finally did come out, I was in my mid-30s.  Just thankful I didn't buy it full priced.  Really wasn't worth the $3.00 that Best Buy was selling it for.


But I digress.

R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

@Vodoo  Also, if those 6 months were really needed to get the game out properly, than why have they already begun working on DLC in that time period ?

TheKokopelli
TheKokopelli

@eddieham13 @robertoenrique  Yes.  You should bow to your overlords for the great things they do.  You should also pay homage to Bobby June for her knowledgeable health tips & hearty recipes.

roguedev
roguedev

@pagemaster22193 Unless it has crucial story content like games seem to be including, I don't advocate piracy unless the person literally has no means of affording it and no means of getting the money to afford it (then it doesn't matter because the company was never getting their money in the first place)

But defending the DLC bullshit that gets pulled isn't the right angle either.

Talking on piracy, I used to pirate the crap out of everything in sight because I had no way of affording games and all my money was going towards study and basic living, the games gave me a good outlet and because I was able to play the games then I kept on gaming as a hobby and now I buy as much as I want as an earning adult.

Piracy itself does very little damage to good games, CDPR keep proving this and really every time I come up against something like install number limits or oh hi games for windows live on my darksouls 1 copy that will soon stop me from being able to play the game without a crack... I do wonder why I bother.

Thankfully the good outweighs the bad now.

shoemaker2004
shoemaker2004

@pagemaster22193  If you're happy paying extra for something you should get for free, go ahead. Games are expensive enough, without the fucking Downloadable Lamer Content

BigBossWato
BigBossWato

@R4gn4r0k We have no clue in which stage of development the DLC is on, so when some says they are working it all that could mean is that the DLC is in a conceptual phase of development, it does not mean that it is almost done and they won't bother putting it the game just to be assholes about it. Furthermore any team that starts working on DLC is usually part of the staff that has finished their part in the primary development for the main game and if they don't put them to work then they would have to lay them off. 

GredegHeado-san
GredegHeado-san

@ThePowerOfHAT @spacecadet25  It would be kind of funny if Gamespot kept doing a "reason Watch Dogs was delayed" story every month... even like several months after the game actually released.

VandersonAssis
VandersonAssis

@annabiabrum @VandersonAssis  Pois é cara, aqui também acontece....tenho certeza que é o traffic trading ou algo assim. É aquela parada de eles liberarem mais banda pra uns países e menos para outros.

torrne667
torrne667

@shoemaker2004 @pagemaster22193  Thing is...if it was put together after the game was shipped i wouldnt have a problem, this is just stuff that could easily fit on the disc and was probably finished way before deadline. Bullshit, everyone should (depending on the release state of the game plus decent reviews) buy the game but boycott the dlc. 


Stop releasing unfinished games!!!

shoemaker2004
shoemaker2004

@pagemaster22193  DLCs are usually tied to the main story or a completely new plot altogether. Now, based on your logic, would you still buy the game if the story was released in episodes (games like sonic, back to the future, the walking dead, and so forth) that you had to purchase separately? You are not forced to buy them, but you are if the DLCs reveal some plot that the main game doesn't.


It's simply really

pagemaster22193
pagemaster22193

Again no one is making you or me buy it. And "get it for free"? Why? Wha at have we done to deserve free dlc that's going to last at least 2 or 3 hours?