Why Ubisoft delayed Watch Dogs

Executive Laurent Detoc recalls the "intense decision," saying it was in the best interest of the game.

Delaying open-world game Watch Dogs from November to 2014 was an "intense decision," but was in the best interest of the game, Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc told IGN in a new interview.

"It’s a very intense decision,” Detoc said. “I think one of the fascinating things about this industry is that you can go from genius to idiot in an extremely short time frame. These are some of those moments, where you’re riding sky high on Watch Dogs or Rayman, and then suddenly you have to break it to the outside world, and sometimes even convince the inside people. Not everybody agrees. You have to say, ‘this is in the best interest of the product, to do this,’ because at the end of the day we’re going to be able to do this extra fine tuning.”

Detoc recalled that as late as Gamescom (August), most people at Ubisoft expected Watch Dogs to launch on schedule, despite some "lingering doubts." But the game was delayed shortly thereafter, because it just wasn't ready, Detoc said.

"Some games, you just can’t make them that much better because of how they’ve been progressing. Part of the decision to delay Watch Dogs is also that," he said. "We know it’s not where we want it to be. Can it get there? What will it take to get there? That’s why it takes a longer process. But in August we really thought we were going to have that game at launch.”

If Ubisoft had delivered Watch Dogs on schedule, the game could have been the "best-rated game on next-gen," Detoc said, claiming Ubisoft is "breaking ground" on various gameplay assets that put the game in "uncharted territory." But this wasn't good enough for Ubisoft, he said, mentioning that Grand Theft Auto V is the high point to aim for.

“The whole package is there already. But without sending them too many flowers, the guys at Rockstar have showed us again that if you make a 96-percent game, people will come," Detoc said. "Watch Dogs, I can only hope we get to that level. There’s an attachment to the brand, in the case of GTA, that makes people really want to give it that 100-percent review. We’ll be missing that on Watch Dogs until we go further, potentially. That’s what we’re after.”

Also in the interview, Detoc addressed the South Park: The Stick of Truth delay. After Ubisoft purchased the South Park game from THQ in January, Detoc said "took a while" to understand the vision for the game. And after a meeting with the South Park team, Ubisoft had a choice to make, he said.

"Do we want to have a fight with these guys and ship the game without their support? Be the guy who did the bad South Park game? Or do we bite the bullet and say, ‘fine, give it another six months and see if we can get there?’ In the end we had to give it another nine or 10 months. That’s more than we thought. But we really reshuffled the cards dramatically with this one," Detoc said. "It was trickier, because it was a third party--both Obsidian and South Park Digital Studios are third-parties--in addition to what we’re typically dealing with. So this one was more complicated. In this particular case, if you keep those two guys engaged, Matt and Trey are really funny guys. They want to put their hearts into making the game better.”

South Park: The Stick of Truth is now scheduled to launch on March 4, 2014, one year after it was originally intended to ship.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and is a big UCONN athletics fan.

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Discussion

208 comments
crazyman158
crazyman158

if watch dogs was released in November it probably wouldve been released in a state worse than gta5

jarheadalex
jarheadalex

Comment sections are so full of conspiracists who think all game developers are out to get them. Delaying games isn't just to fuck of impatient gamers and getting scared about competing titles (though the later I'm sure can be a factor). Better quality games sell more, by making the consumer happier with the product. Even if they produce a game that's a 10/10 underneath a layer of bugs and glitches, people will only talk about how buggy and glitchy it is, not how good the game is. Therefore delaying a game to produce a better product is win-win. GTAV is a prime example as they say in the article.

chaos-commander
chaos-commander

If you think delaying a game is wrong just remind yourself of BF4.

moatasim07
moatasim07

reasons to delay

1- Rayman Legends and Splinter Cell performed below expectations

2- They wanted AC 4 to perform well

3- So many other launch games :- COD Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Fifa 14, NFS Rivals

4- Perhaps the most important reason was the release of GTA 5.......it received critical acclaim......sold well.......so they decided to delay the game to POLISH it in order to reach the standard of GTA 5 and give an intense competition to Rockstar

loverpc4ever
loverpc4ever

i'm sad because they delayed  freedom cry on pc 

DemocraticTroll
DemocraticTroll

F*** you for ruining AC Ubisoft!.

I mean AC 4 is good because of the ship gameplay, take that out and you have a shi* game with a shi* story, i've always played AV games mainly for the story...and AC 4's story...ugh.


Lost of things left unexplained,you were playing someone that isn't an Assassin in an Assassins game...missions are repetitive it's always, tail this guy, listen to this guy then kill this guy...or destroy a ship...


The story...why did you kill everyone again?, i hated it, not because i cared about the characters i didn't, but because it was bloody annoying, "hey i just met this guy..oh he's dead" "hey an other guy!...oh he's dead as well"...

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Can't wait for this game to come out but I rather have a clean finished product so take ur tim e ubi I can wait.

vader501st
vader501st

The question now is WHEN exactly the game is scheduled for release. I'd take this over South Park any day of the week.

Rambolike
Rambolike

After reading the article, I still don't understand why they had to delay it.  Vague "best interests of the game" leave lots to the imagination.  I agree with some of the other commenters here: this is a business decision only, probably to avoid clashing with AC4
and other games.  The competition was too fierce.

Godly_Kongming
Godly_Kongming

Ubisoft still leaves a bad taste in my mouth from Ghost recon future soldier.  It took them 6 months to release the first patch to make it playable online.  Ridiculous.  And they dont give a shit about their customers

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

It wasn't in the best interests of the game, it was in the best interests of your Assassin's Creed 4 sales numbers.  Don't fucking lie to us.

atopp399
atopp399

Better reason than the Wii U Rayman delay.  

blackace
blackace

I'm fine with the game being delayed. I want it to be perfect.

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

..Delayed because it was looking like a duffer.

fadersdream
fadersdream

99.9% of the time it's because of the launch window.

Afraid of what it's up against, and COD Ghosts was not something they were willing to get in a fight with.

Ranma_X_basic
Ranma_X_basic

I'm okay with the game being delayed. why rush it out to launch with the current and next gen consoles and it turns out mediocre. More time=Better game...I hope!!! lol

theteaface
theteaface

Add polish.. fine tuning.. I love these 'finishing touches' metaphors. No game producers ever say:

"well we were playing what we thought was the final build and there were like these massive texture pop-ins so we were all like 'whoa - better sort that sh*t out'..."

pszone
pszone

Since you delay game because gta5 I might get watch Dogs pre owned  soz ubisoft  shouldn't delay it .

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

At the very least Ubisoft will have some games to release during the months after the launch window. So there shouldn't be a games drought on Xbox One and PS4. 

RossRichard
RossRichard

They delayed it because there was too much competition from other games in the holiday window.

Chaz456
Chaz456

I mostly agree on this. Ubisoft is losing money by not releasing it during the Holiday buying season but they'd rather have a polished finished product and I respect that. People can say all they want they didn't want to release this with AC IV, but fact is most people buying AC IV probably would've also bought Watchdogs.


You can look at the flip side of this and see what a disaster Battlefield 4 is (Crashing to home screen, deleting campaign saves, games modes not working properly, one shot kill, etc etc). I mean heaven forbid EA/DICE actually delay the game until it is actually running properly and works, but nope they took the other route where greed won out and they wanted it to be out not only during the busy holiday season but before CoD Ghosts. 

So if people are still giving Ubisoft a hard time about the delay this is just 1 easy example to point out.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

The answer is simple, because Next Gen sales sucks..

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

"The whole package is there already. But without sending them too many flowers, the guys at Rockstar have showed us again that if you make a 96-percent game, people will come"


Except for the staunch PC gamers.


So Brokestar double fucked us, first directly by not releasing the game on PC, and then indirectly by having Ubi post-pone Watchdogs.

And they're still keeping silent about the PC release, Douchebags. They say they care about the game more than they care about the money yet they hope to get more money from people who would purchase the game again on PC.

uncha1n3d
uncha1n3d

Going into this article I knew it would sound like it did. Dev's always talk in code and dance around questions. I was really hoping for a definitive answer instead of the usual "its done when its done" and "we needed to make it perfect" crap. Just be like...."we wanted it to be longer so we extended the story", or "there were numerous glitches and we didnt want to release it until it was ironed out".

bernard978
bernard978

Game is going to be amazing because of extra time and that it's Ubisoft Montreal.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

@jarheadalexYes as if GTAV isn't buggy or glitchy. Bugs and glitches don't matter when you have marketing. Look at Skyrim.

garywood69
garywood69

@moatasim07 Or maybe they're just telling the truth? As far as I can tell, it probably would've been the best selling launch game had it been out on time!

crazyman158
crazyman158

@moatasim07 NFS is not related to Watch dogs and wouldn't effect sales same with fifa. No one bought ghost and for those who did most returned it. and battlefield 4 is nearly unplayable at launch and some turned it back in and got another. the only game that probably would've effected sales is AC4, but AC4 and Watch dogs are both owned by ubi montreal so the money goes to same place so that doesnt really matter. But i think the main reason they delayed it is because it was probably in the same buggy state as ac3 release. but hey who knows?

collegekid440
collegekid440

@RambolikeThat would be dumb from a business stand point.  It's all about market share right?  I'm sure Ubisoft would rather have AC4 lose sales to Watchdogs than to a game from another publisher.

crazyman158
crazyman158

@Thanatos2k that is completely irrelevant. why would they care about ac4 sales vs watch dogs sales. the money both goes to the same person. if ac4 loses 65,000 sales because of watch dogs and the 65,000 goes to watch dogs the money still goes to the same place and the gaming market is all about the $$$ signs so why would ubi care

jarheadalex
jarheadalex

@fadersdream  Where'd you find that out, madeupstatistics.com?
I personally don't believe they are lying to us, as I've seen a lot of articles say that the difference in sales between a 80% game and a 90% game is huge, and that final 10% is almost always about the finer details of the finished product and can be ruined by little glitches that could have been ironed out before launch. Sure launch windows factor into it as well, but not 99.9% of the time.

TimberWolf_CLT
TimberWolf_CLT

@theteaface The funny thing to me is that we would probably reward such honesty.  I'd rather deal with that and find I regard folks like that in a much more kind light.

dfuknb
dfuknb

@Chaz456

\RossRichard

They delayed it because there was too much competition from other games in the holiday window.

deathblow3
deathblow3

@Ladiesman17 well they are selling out of next gen devices and in less than a month they have combined to beat out the wii u. also this is not just next gen it is current gen as well, so the next gen sales dont really matter that much.

atopp399
atopp399

@uncha1n3d I agree.  It doesn't mean much when they aren't specific.  Why not say the faces don't look realistic enough so we are working on them or the bullet mechanics were off.  Give us an example.  Studios release unfinished games all the time and fix them with DLC.  Look at Battlefield.  So, what's the real reason, if not a crowded holiday schedule.

meatz666
meatz666

@uncha1n3d Not devs. Publisher PR. Devs are awesome. I'm a dev. And I'm awesome.

jarheadalex
jarheadalex

@Bellum_Sacrum GTA online was buggy. GTAV, I didn't hear anything of game breaking bugs. But if you found some, just imagine how bad the bugs would have been had it not been delayed. Skyrim, yeah I found a few game breaking bugs but that also effected review scores which in turn probably effected sales. I think Skyrim would have sold well no matter what, given the hype behind it.

e1tonka
e1tonka

@crazyman158 @moatasim07 Doesn't matter if they're related. They're games available at the same time for a new console. That shrinks it's sales margins because simply put, most people aren't buying the new console and 6 $60 games at the same time. Or the games themselves for that matter. Also, Ghosts sold VERY well. Best selling game on both next Gens. Second best on current gens. Sales were not what they expected when compared to BO2 but were BO1/MW2 style sales. Still within top 10 all time. BF 2, 3 and 4 for me have all had horrible connectivity on any console. 

solarrainuk
solarrainuk

@crazyman158@moatasim07Think about what you're saying, please. Releasing Watch Dogs and AC4 at the same time, means both titles are directly competing with each other.  Separating the releases means high sales of both games. Had both released together, AC4 would have been skipped because a lot of people are getting quite tired of the franchise, especially after AC3. 2-1=1.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@crazyman158@Thanatos2k Because that's not how it works.  People only have a certain amount of disposable income, and stupid people have real short memories.  Remember, almost every AAA game now sells most of its lifetime sales within the first two weeks.  If they don't buy it when it launches they don't come back later.

Rambolike
Rambolike

Meatz, mental illness is treatable.  Seek help.