Bad Timing: Watch_Dogs Delayed Until Spring 2014

By John Walker on October 15th, 2013 at 6:19 pm.

Strangely enough I only badgered the poor, beleaguered PRs at Ubisoft this afternoon to see if there were any surprises in store for the release date of Watch_Dogs. I’d spotted that South Park: The Stick Of Truth doesn’t actually have a PC release date right now, despite the consoles being set for the 13th December in the UK, and wondered about their biggest Autumn title. Turns out I’m a proper, bona fide psychic. Very sadly, one of the most exciting-looking games of the year is no longer of the year.

Clearly this isn’t something anyone wanted, and it is of course accompanied by the familiar statement about “polish”. A potentially four month delay is a heck of a lot of polish. But the statement is heartfelt.

“Our ambition from the start with Watch_Dogs has been to deliver something that embodies what we wanted to see in the next-generation of gaming. It is with this in mind that we’ve made the tough decision to delay the release until Spring 2014.

We know a lot of you are probably wondering ‘why now?’ We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune every detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the way you respond on the web, at events, press conferences and during other opportunities we have to interact. Your passion is what drives us.

We can’t wait to see you in Chicago next Spring. We are confident you’ll love this game as much as we love working on it.”

So the usual refrain from us then: we’d much prefer a finished and great game later on, than a buggy and broken one now. But man, I was rather looking forward to getting my teeth into this one this November. Of course, the Walker Constant states that first release dates can never be true, so I really should have guessed. My releasdar suspects this won’t be the only delay on this one either, especially since the very fixed 22nd November date is now the extremely vague “Spring 2014″. Which could mean anything from February to June. Let’s just assume that all this extra time means there won’t be any need to “delay” the PC version though, eh? Like appears to be happening with South Park, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and…

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70 Comments »

  1. Squirly says:

    That sounds … ominous.

    • akstro says:

      Especially so when it is delayed about a month from release… We have seen GTAV and Binfinite get delayed and that was OK but here they have decided to delay it so late that it does raise suspicion. Could it be that the GTAV success scared them off thinking theirs wouldnt sell well?

      • HadToLogin says:

        Wouldn’t be surprised if read deal-breaker are current-gen-consoles, that certification showed some massive bugs that need heavy rewrite of code (Ubisoft said W_D is made for PC and next-gen, then ported to this-gen). If they wanted game to be out in a month, it had to be finished few weeks ago so MS and Sony could allow selling it on their consoles.

        Or they finally noticed they release at nearly same time very similar in-rules games, just one with one-shot-guns and ships and other with semi-automatic pistols and cars…

  2. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    watchdoge
    so delay
    such ubisoft pc
    wow

    Well I guess a game for 16-cores with 32GB RAM and four quad-linked Titan graphics cards and 500GB HDD space needs quite some additional time.

  3. DatonKallandor says:

    So is that 4 months delay including the several-months-behind-consoles or without it?

    • Behrditz says:

      Initial calls to amazon from people who ordered the ps4 watch dogs bundle are coming back with “The bundle will be delivered in the spring” meaning those people arent getting their consoles until the game comes out. Amazon also says that this is “developing” and they MIGHT come up with something in the coming weeks.

    • Leonick says:

      The PC version was set to come out at the same time as all other versions so I doubt that changed with the delay.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        HAHAHA
        That is hilarious. The fact they still make that claim every. single. time. is just unbeatable. It’s like a really not that funny Ubisoft running gag.
        “PC comes out at the same time as console version…..sorry guys I just can’t keep a straight face saying that”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Tom De Roeck says:

      There was a PCGamer or Eurogamer piece on that; they simply have the teams doing the console versions first, PC versions last. so there usually is a delay because of that.

      Also, there was an article on console gaming releases by Jurie Horneman I believe, (here somewhere: http://www.intelligent-artifice.com/) that just highlighted the impossibility of delaying a console release. It’s almost like film in that respect: most of their sales come from the first weekend or week.

      That being said, I much rather the PC game has all of the patches and good stuff from the delay than not. (or any DLC that might have come out already)

  4. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    It sounds slightly suspicious, especially since I heard mention of them delaying ‘The Crew’ as well. I just hope they’re using the time for productive optimisation and polishing. Also, congratulations RPS you managed to recruit another person/thing that likes to shout opinions that don’t matter i.e. me

  5. Bull0 says:

    Quite surprising given that it’s a launch title for the new consoles, in the bundles, etc. Less surprising given how ambitious the original pitch was and how, over the course of a few gameplay videos, it was starting to look less like that game and more like something more linear. Interested to see where we end up with this

  6. RPSRSVP says:

    Official game site now says Holidays 2013 release http://watchdogs.ubi.com/watchdogs/en-us/buy/index.aspx

    . I think they just didn’t want to fight for sales vs the upcoming and already launched heavyweights.

  7. nrvsNRG says:

    can someone please explain to me why prolonged release dates actually bothers some ppl? its pathetic.

    • BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

      Because we live in a world where humans only have a short time left to live. If they don’t get what they want straight away then they believe the devs are taunting them in an attempt to resemble a villainous dictator.

      • Kadayi says:

        Careful there bud. Painting them out to be a business and not an evil ogre is against the rules.

        • BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

          Oh God did I do that? Hold on while I cauterise myself while sending my prayers to the almighty…I don’t know, is there even anything that isn’t an ogre in the games industry anymore?

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Human condition. You can’t do [thing] in [culture that you care about] while a lot of other people are doing [thing]. Social demands take over, increased desire, envy, pain, anger, with the increasing irrelevance after a certain time in [culture you care about] also ennui, vague dread. All that in contrast to the perceived value of fun you would be having with [thing] at the same time, which makes the gap even wider.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        the game looks great but it could take another year to reach PC and i still wouldnt care.
        300 games in my steam library (of which i have played about 25%) and probably another 50 on other platforms/mmo’s/arpg’s etc etc…… i’m always going to be content.

    • Kadayi says:

      No. Frankly it amazes me as well. I think Ubi should perhaps adopt Rockstars policy of announcing PC when they’re good and ready, and forgo the dramarama in truth. Though one suspects they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    • fish99 says:

      I’m sure you’ve never been impatient.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        i get excited about games, but i would never actually complain about delayed release dates. Its what young children would do.

        • Stardreamer says:

          Perhaps you don’t know the history of Ubisoft mysteriously delaying their PC titles by a month at the last minute while nothing happens to the console releases?

          It’s that kind of consistent but never explained behaviour that irks, not the delayed releases per se. Because it suggests skullduggery…

          Note that John hasn’t actually complained about the Watch Dogs delay – he’s accepted it. At the end he just hopes Ubisoft don’t return to their usual form so I’m not quite sure what’s prompted this anti-delay-haters riff you’re on?

          • nrvsNRG says:

            I wasnt referring to John, his post was very passive, and i fully understand Ubisofts track record and i ALWAYS think its a non issue. i dont care what the reasons or exuses are. it comes out when it comes out, skull duggery or not.

          • Kadayi says:

            There’s no mystery about it.

            http://www.polygon.com/2013/10/2/4795024/why-assassins-creed-always-launches-last-on-pc

            The optimize per platform and PC is last in the run. Likely because the unit sales aren’t as high as the consoles market. Makes a tonne of sense really.

          • Cooper says:

            We know why Ubisoft PC titles are later than the consoles. But it seems Ubisoft do not:

            What we don’t know is why they consistently claim that there will be a simultaneous release of the PC version with the console version only to announce a delay to the PC version close to supposed release.

            Then again, I’ve never bought a Ubisoft game on release, so I don’t mind much either way.

        • fish99 says:

          Adults get impatient too and you know it. Thankfully we’re not all the same or it’d be a boring planet.

        • brassdragon says:

          Ubisoft is actually taking money for pre-orders so complaining about delays seems something any reasonable customer would do when the other party isn’t holding up their end of the transaction… especially if the delays are predictable and poorly communicated.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        The last time I got impatient and whiny about a delayed release was Red Orchestra 2, and anyone who was similarly involved in that whole pre-order debacle knows how it turned out. Lesson learned, never letting my emotions override my common sense again.

    • TigerWolfe says:

      For a lot of folks, this was going to be THE launch title for their PS4. I realize that RPS is PC-centric. But I personally, primarily game on PC, and then play other stuff on console. As this is a pretty big bombshell to drop a month out from the ship of the console, and the game is bundled/tied to the console, people are pretty upset. Add in that some reps have been saying that if you ordered the bundle, you won’t be receiving your console until the game launches, and many people are pretty justifiably upset.

    • airmikee99 says:

      I can’t explain it to you, but I can agree with your sentiment. A release delay usually means the game gets more attention, more polish, move love from the developer before I get to play it. That has NEVER been a bad thing.

    • Consumatopia says:

      1. Big difference between complaining about a game’s overall release date and complaining about a game’s release date for your region or platform. For a lot of people, gaming is a social experience, and they would much prefer to play a game at the same time that their friends or the media are talking about it. If you don’t feel that way, that’s cool, to be honest I don’t really feel that way either, but I understand it and see why it’s perfectly rational.

      2. Depends on what you mean by “bother”. I would certainly never complain that a game has been delayed (uniformly for all regions/platforms), but if you ask me “would you like to play this cool game now or five months from now?”, I’m probably always going to say “Ooh. Now, please!”

      3. OTOH, if you ask me “would you like to play this cool game five months from now at full price, or twelve months from now on sale”, I’ll take a look at my Steam library and wait the twelve months (actually, probably longer). Fortunately for the AAA games industry, there are enough impatient players unlike me to keep them in business.

    • Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

      Agreed, it is pathetic. It’s a bit immature and all around silly for a number of reasons. First and foremost: it’s a game. I can’t remember the last time I even bought a game at full release price anyway, so for me release dates mean nothing.

  8. Monkeh says:

    My initial excitement from the announcement trailer for this game has since nothing but declined. Delaying it for possibly half a year won’t do that any good.

    • LXM says:

      Same here, every trailer I’ve watched reduces my interest, mainly because they just seem to be showing the same things over and over and it makes me wonder if this game is just a one-trick pony.

      It’s actually been the opposite effect with Assassin’s Creed 4, a series which I rarely give a damn about, with my interest slowly growing over the last month.

  9. SirKicksalot says:

    South Park comes out on PC on December 10 in the US, same day as on consoles, a couple of days after the season finale. Elsewhere it’s delayed, probably because of the show’s syndication deals.

  10. darkhog says:

    Clearly this isn’t something anyone wanted, and it is of course accompanied by the familiar excuse about “polish”.

    Fix’d dat for ya.

    • Kadayi says:

      What other reason would you have for them not wanting peoples money as a matter of interest? The game is already pretty high on peoples lists as a game to get, so it’s not like they’re doing anything but hurting themselves financially with the delay. From a business perspective there’s no reason to delay, unless they as a company aren’t happy with the present state of the game for some reason. It’s delayed to 2014 across all platforms, not just PC, so clearly there are issues with the product. Remember when HL2 was delayed? Most people seemed pretty accepting of that.

      If there’s a reason for the delay it’s likely as a result of the riproaring success of GTA V and pressure that puts on Watchdogs as an open world game coming after it. Despite the fact that WD might have a lot of playability to it I suspect in terms of world building content it would come across as second best to V and that would likely impact both review scores and hardcore player impressions (does watchdogs even have any music stations in game for instance?) Generating a bit of space between it and V to work on rounding it out in certain areas as well as polishing it further is likely no bad thing in the long term (6 months is a big window for a title that’s ostensibly in the can). Plus shipping it and ACIV roughly the same time would be a clear case of cannibalizing their own sales.

  11. Synesthesia says:

    Poor guys, 4 more monts of crunch time. Is the industry still doing that? We should talk about that.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Were I an optimist, I would say that a management willingness to allow this to happen indicates a slightly healthier workplace that doesn’t run on perpectual crunch and Deadlines Are Law.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        It’s probably 4 more months of crunch time for them instead of the deserved few days of vacation. Unpaid extra time, at that.

  12. Iskariot says:

    I am shocked and also very disappointed, but I can understand it.
    I’d rather have them work on the game another 6 months and deliver something truly remarkable than releasing to soon and killing the IP because of it.
    I have high hopes for this IP and every effort should be made to create something that can stand proudly next to a game like GTA V.

    • apa says:

      GTA 5 might have raised the bar on open world games polish. If WD was released now it would be compared to GTA5 and that affects metacritic and so on :(

  13. Premium User Badge

    Aquarion says:

    I saw the presentation & run-though at the Eurogamer Expo thing, and found it curious that it was pretty much the only autumn “booth” title without a playable version. I guess this is why.

    The live demo stoked me for the full game, running though a fight with non-combat until the developer playing fucked up and had to start shooting everything, but it’s sad to hear it’s been pushed out of the Christmas running, I was looking forward to dedicating some holiday time to it.

  14. PopeRatzo says:

    Wow, I didn’t see that coming.

    Anyway, I told you guys, that Q4 of “next year” is when every good game is coming out. And I get a kick out of this:

    As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune every detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience.

    Google translates that to, “We realized our game was going to be another Ubisoft third-person disappointment, and we knew this since July, but we figured, what the hell, if we come out on August 1 and say the game isn’t going to come out until Q4 of 2014, people will forget about us and start thinking about other games, so we figured, let’s string the suckers along a little while longer. Plus, it gives us more time push pre-sales, because god knows when the reviews come out we’re toast.”

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Not sure what “third-person disappointments” you could be referring to. I’m no fan of Ubisoft’s, but their third-person games are generally well-reviewed and sell loads. Assassin’s Creed III sold something like seven million units in Q4 2012. That’s not a disappointment by any metric.

  15. Metalhead9806 says:

    Is the Delay just for the PC version of for all platforms?

    • RPSRSVP says:

      Delay applies to all platforms but there will also be another PC exclusive delay

      • Coffee Ray Gun says:

        I don’t think there will be, they’ve said PC was the lead platform for Watch_Dogs, so maybe not?

        • DatonKallandor says:

          They say that EVERY TIME. Of course there’ll be a couple of months of PC exclusive delay. It’s an Ubisoft game.

  16. SuicideKing says:

    Must be making more trailers.

  17. Coffee Ray Gun says:

    I’m actually kind of happy about this, I was worried there would be plenty of bugs because they rushed it out for the new consoles, plus it’ll give me time to play all the other games that come out around November.

  18. phelix says:

    The combination of the “ubisoft” and “delay” tags is inevitable, it seems.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    No dog watching for a while, then, eh?

  20. Drake Sigar says:

    Well ok then. It must be important if they’re passing up a Christmas holiday release.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I’m telling you, it will be Q4 of next year before the PC version is released. Count on it. It’ll still be a Christmas release.

  21. Cronstintein says:

    Been looking forward to this since E3 2012 so one more season isn’t gonna kill me.

  22. Panda Powered says:

    This will be legen… wait for it…

  23. mikmanner says:

    This seems…fishy.

  24. The Random One says:

    I’m very disappointed… with that headline. A game about hacking, on a PC website, and the best you could do was “Bad Timing”? You really couldn’t think of any computer-related tardiness terms? When you report this game’s next, inevitable delay I expect it to read, at least, “Request Timed Out: Watch_Dogs Delayed Again”.

  25. phylum sinter says:

    I won’t hesitate to say that this was the biggest deciding factor in my purchasing one of them newfangled consoleboxes. I didn’t preorder, but my tactic has been something along the lines of “see if the PC version comes out day/date with the next gen version and decide then what to do”.

    Now that this has happened, i am now wondering if i should drop $400 on a videocard that will probably get me 90% of the multiplatform games i’ve been giddy about or attempt to cobble coins together to build an all new pc, relegating this one to a Steambox/streamer. My system with an i7-920 and 5850 is starting to get creaky, and i know it’ll just sorta putz out when The Witcher 3 comes.

    I hope the wait will be worth it. I’m playing through AC3 right now and the level of late-game bugs is ridiculous. Ubisoft can make some really solid, bugless games (Rayman) but when they do Open World games it seems like the clowns are running the show half the time.

    The other Ubi game i both fret for and really want to play is The Division — which wasn’t a launch title, but such an innovative game might also get thrown into launch date limbo.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    UNDERSCORE DOGS.

    Also when did it become WatchunderscoreDogs?

    Camelcase, tbqfh.

  27. Yaksha says:

    That’s real nice of Ubisoft. Especially after the big ads on TV the last weeks with the nice CGI trailer and the big message of; PRE-ORDER now! Released 22th november.

    Somehow i sense it’s a case of slight false advertisement and duping unsuspecting consumers that still had trust in release dates of big developers.

  28. skyturnedred says:

    There was an ad that said something like “two months is enough for Los Santos, come visit Chicago [release date]” so I’m guessing the developers aren’t done goofing around Los Santos themselves yet.

  29. HisDivineOrder says:

    The only question I have is why it took them this long to realize, “Hey, this game is going to need months and months more development time.” I don’t buy the vague reasons they gave.

  30. spaced says:

    Maybe one of the things they’ll “polish” is removing guns from the gameplay entirely.

    I don’t understand why gameplay that’s so central to hacking and using all this tech power can’t leverage that power over gunplay. Like, adding a layer of challenge to it, not to mention variety. Instead it’s just like “Do all this hacking and tech stuff, but if all else fails, spray everybody with bullets because publishers are dinosaurs.”

    The premise is already so interesting. But when you have this guy in all the artwork with his badass little PDA or whatever AND a gun, it ruins it a little for me. I’m all for letting the player decide how they want to play, but why can’t he just use tech as his weapon instead of having to fall back on shooting people? Don’t we kind of have enough of those games already?