GTAV's success puts pressure on Watch Dogs, says analyst

Benchmark Company's Mike Hickey says Ubisoft ultimately made the right decision to delay the game until the developer could "get it right."


Watch Dogs
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Grand Theft Auto V's critical and commercial success has put pressure on Ubisoft's own open-world game Watch Dogs, Benchmark Company analyst Mike Hickey has said.

Speaking with The New York Times, Hickey said Ubisoft decision to delay Watch Dogs was understandable because delivering an experience that did not meet gamers' expectations could have been detrimental to the brand.

"The success of Grand Theft Auto V has put a lot of pressure on Watch Dogs," Hickey said. "They want it to be their next big franchise."

GTAV generated a record-breaking $800 million in 24 hours and more than $1 billion in its first three days. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot addressed the "GTA effect" this week, saying games like GTAV can actually have a positive impact on competing products like Watch Dogs.

"Each time there's a megablockbuster that takes lots of sales, it has an impact around it for sure," Guillemot said. "There's a positive and negative effect. The positive one is that it's actually pushing lots of players to come back to their machine and play. So it generally has a positive impact on the games that come after because those guys want more now that they've experimented with a very good quality game," he added. "So we can now expect a positive effect after the launch."

Guillemot said delaying Watch Dogs will allow the game to have "far bigger potential."

"The company made the right decision," Hickey added. "They could have put out a lower-quality game, but it’s best to wait to get it right."

BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Williams agreed.

"You only get one chance to make a first impression with gamers," Williams said. "The delays bring into question the original timeline put forward by Ubisoft, but they want to give it the best opportunity for sustained success."

Following Ubisoft's announcement of Watch Dogs and The Crew delays this week, the company's share value plunged more than 30 percent, the most in company history. Ubisoft expects to book a loss of up to $95 million for the year, compared to previous estimations for a profit of $170 million for the same period.

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