Watch_Dogs Delay Due To ‘Broken’ Systems, Out In May

By Nathan Grayson on March 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

All I wanted to do was watch some dogs late last year. Was that so much to ask? Apparently, because Ubisoft abruptly delayed near-future hacker magic sim Watch_Dogs into the non-specific reaches of 2014. To sate my craving, I had to go to a dog park, and there weren’t any hackers there at all. What a bust. Now, though, Aiden Pierce – man of many faces, two first names, and one silly hat – is back on track, and he’ll be breaking phones and probably hearts in May. But why the wait in the first place? According to Ubisoft, the game just wasn’t coming together.

Grumble grumble serious gravel voice thematically questionable nudity some things you can’t walk away from GUNSHOT (the gun also has a gravel voice) yeah.

Watch_Dogs (not to be confused with “Watch, Dogs,” a game in which you try to hold the very fickle attention spans of over 30 different canine breeds) will be out on May 27th. The lengthy wait, creative director Jonathan Morin told Eurogamer, resulted from a dearth of finer details. The game needed more – not just predefined, “repetitive” mission solutions and rudimentary AI. And many systems were “broken” to boot.

“When you’re promising a player that they can hack everything and express themselves, they expect the result to be there. A complicated game that is broken is no more acceptable than an easier one that works.”

Systems like AI and world cohesion simply weren’t coming together, so Ubisoft (wisely, from the sound of things) stuck the game back in the oven. Soon, however, the action-heavy hack-a-thon will complete its marathon sprint to the finish. At that point, we’ll see if time and polish were really all it needed.

For now, though, are you still looking forward to Watch_Dogs? It initially got so much buzz that every bee the world over flew into a confused rage, but I feel like that’s died down rather significantly with time. Do you still see a lot of promise in this one?

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68 Comments »

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  1. Penguin_Factory says:

    It’s cool that they actually delayed it to give it proper time, but hearing that it came that close to release while apparently having some fairly huge flaws isn’t encouraging.

    • unangbangkay says:

      I think this sentiment’s absurd. The only reason this sounds in any way unusual for any kind of game development is that they’re being surprisingly honest about the state the game was in at the time they decided to delay. Other titles would have just said “polish” and left it at that, then never bothered to elaborate on the details.

      Typically publishers and marketing demands that customers believe every game to be an Athena, sprung fully formed from the mind of the developers several seconds before the review embargo lifts, and that “gone gold” is some kind of magical word that springs games into being from the ether. Obviously that’s not true, and it’s even less true in the age of widely published postmortems, early access, and day one patches.

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        ffordesoon says:

        While I totally agree, especially after being a moderator on the Wasteland 2 boards for a few months now, I will say that this delay concerns me for a slightly different reason. The number one worry the game provoked from the moment it was announced was that it would end up being repetitive, and yet one gets the impression that they only realized that might be a problem a few weeks before release. Comments from folks who haven’t played the game yet should be taken with a grain of salt, for sure, but it concerns me that it took them so long to notice how repetitive the gameplay was.

        That may be something that’s hard to know until the game starts coming together, to be fair to them, but it still concerns me. If proper systemic reactivity was only baked in recently, how deep can it go?

    • Baboonanza says:

      As above, but you also shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it can be to get a tough decision like that made in a large business. All the planning will have been set around a particular release date, budgets will have been arranged, marketing drones will have been hatched and fed a stready stream of pulped press releases to ensure they are ready to ejaculate at the correct point, exclusive reviews will have been paid for, executives will have booked in their cocaine fountains and Bunga Bunga parties etc.

      To call all this off requires a considerable effort so it doesn’t suprise me in the least that the decision is finally made so late in the day.

      • unangbangkay says:

        That’s exactly my point. Any game that’s been delayed could have been facing this kind of “disaster”, except in most cases we never know why. Culture of silence and all that.

        As such the only reason some are losing it at hearing that the game wasn’t in an ideal state at the time they decided to skip the deadline is that they’re hearing that at all, when the usual reasoning for delays given is worth little more than the PR people just clamming up and saying “polish” like a mantra.

        And it’s ironic that they’re worried now, when they’d likely be curious-but-positive about it had Ubisoft kept quiet. It’s reactions like this that the status quo of marketing/promotion sees little benefit in being more transparent about the process of developing a game.

      • Moraven says:

        It was set to release and be bundled with the console launches. It was pretty big of them to delaying it.

    • yonsito says:

      Yeah.
      Hard to imagine how broken this game may have been to convince Ubisoft to delay their flagship launch title for two new consoles (and PC).
      I really hope that it’s in better shape now.

  2. natendi says:

    Still looking forward to it but worrying hearing that things are broken 3 months away from release! Might be delayed again?

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      Harlander says:

      As others have expressed, it’s actually kinda comforting to hear that they’ve done a rethink when they felt it was needed.

      I’m still quietly stoked for this.

    • Ranek says:

      The game being broken that far from release is nothing strange. You should see what the games I work on look like that far from release.

      • natendi says:

        Ah, fair enough then. I am glad they are making changes, and it’s better they are being a bit more open, was just fixating on the word ‘broken’ :)

  3. Jekhar says:

    The game needed more – not just predefined, “repetitive” mission solutions and rudimentary AI. And many systems were “broken” to boot.

    That was no problem for them with AssCreed, so what’s up with the perfectionism all off a sudden? /snark

    • Armante says:

      Given how that complaint about AssCreed actually still stands today and people were already commenting on it in regards to W_D, perhaps they actually felt they ought to change it.

      Stranger things have happened.

      Will wait for some reviews, but fingers crossed it’s going to be positive

      • Jekhar says:

        This beeing Ubi, waiting for a review is a given. Let’s see what they have “in store” for pc gamers this time.

        • Cyrius says:

          Personally, I think UBI pisses excellence.

          Go hate on Origin exclusivity instead.

          • The Random One says:

            UBI pisses excellence? That explains why most of their excellent games have so many shitty bits.

    • Baboonanza says:

      I suspect the primary reason is that Watch_Dogs is UbiSofts hope for starting a new mega-franchise (ala AssCreed) on the next-gen consoles. This generally has to be done at the beginning of the cycle while the number of games is fairly limited as this ensures a higher percentage of owners buy the game than you would normally expect with new IP.

      UbiSoft know that you can release an odd dodgy game later in a franchise without hurting the IP or losing much (or any) money, but if you hopw to launch an new IP mega-franchise then the first game has to be good.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        And yet, Assassin’s Creed the 1 (and best) was heavily simplified, only the sequel really got all the systems together.

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    MajorManiac says:

    I think the game looks very promising. Two things though:
    1. I hope its not another open-world game where you hoover-up all the icons on the map and follow quest markers the whole time.
    2. I don’t think the voice fits the character. I still think Ed Norton (as in Fight Club) would suit the role well.

    • rikvanoostende says:

      The game revolves around stealth action, snarky remarks and electronic gadgets. It screams Michael Ironside!

      • Jekhar says:

        Half-Life 3 Shenmue 3 Watch Dogs = Splinter Cell prequel confirmed!!!

    • TheVGamer says:

      The main character is such a stereotype. They might as well have him be an alcoholic in addition to his crippling smoking addiction. A costume in which he dons a fedora is mandatory.

      • Iskariot says:

        Yes but that is because in the end all humans are stereotypes.

    • TWChristine says:

      I always like to imagine lines (in games, movies, books…random people..) being said in Snake voice. This is probably why I don’t have friends. :(

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    RedViv says:

    Well then, July release it is for us!

  6. Revolving Ocelot says:

    So much hoo-hah from various internety places about the downgraded graphics in the latest trailer. I think the delay has really killed this game’s sales potential. People will tolerate smaller companies delaying games to make them better, but not the triple A stuff.

    Personally I’m waiting a year or so for good sales anyway, so whatevs.

  7. Notebooked says:

    “A complicated game that is broken is no more acceptable than an easier one that works.”

    I may be misreading this quote, but it looks…off. An easier game that works is incredible levels of more acceptable than a complicated game that’s broken.

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      basilisk says:

      But as he says in the previous sentence, they have already promised there would be complicated systems, and if they didn’t deliver on that, the internet would haul them over the coals even if the game actually turned out to be great.

    • LionsPhil says:

      In context, if they took out all the neat mechanics the trailers implied for Watch Dogs, and instead released a competent but unadventurous GTA-alike in mildly day-after-tomorrow infopunk clothing, the Internet would be Very Disappointed. I do not think they would accept it very well.

      (Conversely, if they pulled a Troika-alike amazing-flawed-diamond, it may well get a huge cult following. But that doesn’t necessarily mean making a ton of money. See also: Boiling Point.)

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      yhancik says:

      We all look for different things in games, I guess, but on the opposite I’ve had way more fun with broken “complicated” games than “simple working ones”. And there are already more than enough well streamlined and predictable games, I think can totally use some risk-taking :D

      • Bull0 says:

        That’s totally what I was thinking. I’ll take a dodgy systems game over a solid theme park ride, thanks.

  8. Bull0 says:

    No, it isn’t about the “hype” waning, because that’s daft – “I wanted this six months ago because everyone was talking about it but then they stopped and now I don’t want it” – but the delay does make one concerned about the quality of the game – if it wasn’t suitable for release six months ago I’m a bit doubtful they’ll have fixed much in the interim.

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      Is the concept “I was super excited about this game 6 months ago and was ready to shell out, but in the intervening time I haven’t heard much so my excitement has waned, and now I’ll keep an eye on it but will probably be waiting for reviews and a sale” really that alien to you? Happens to me all the time, especially with movies that they announce a year before they release.

  9. PopeRatzo says:

    I told you: Q4, 2014.

    You might be able to play this game around Thanksgiving.

  10. PopeRatzo says:

    There isn’t enough thematically questionable nudity in my life.

  11. presence says:

    the “phone” focus has me nervous. Its simply way to foreground.

  12. articulate says:

    I’m really into the concept, and the E3 demo’s look promising, but to pull it off they’re going to have to either provide a lot of content up front to keep it varied, or continually support the game through patches that create some element of variety. I do not want a repeat of Spiderman 2. As good as that game was, “Geez Louise it’s always something in this town!”.

    I honestly wouldn’t be put off if they pushed it even further than May. I’m patient enough, and I’m really happy they’ve pushed it back this far to make sure it’s up to expectations. It really says a lot for them actually having faith in this new IP.

  13. Iskariot says:

    One of the very few games that is a guaranteed first day buy for me.
    I like what I see, I love the concept and hope the execution lives up the my expectations.

  14. Pop says:

    Oi, I used to have a very similar hat, and it was great! Although it was a bit small and gave me migraines after prolonged wearing.

  15. Zekiel says:

    I still thinks this looks interesting. Not interesting enough to upgrade my PC for, but interesting enough to follow with interest for when I do upgrade.

    I do have to roll my eyes at the dreadfully tired plot point of having a female relative (not clear whether its wife or daughter) being killed by the bad guys in order to give Our Hero a motivation. Yeesh.

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      I believe it’s his niece.

      • rikvanoostende says:

        His niece? What a fresh change from the usual “wife/daughter/protegé/mom got killed” cliché.

    • TWChristine says:

      “He was a cop..and good at his job. But then he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead..”

  16. int says:

    All the delays in the world if they have The Dude in their game.

    I abide.

  17. Cronstintein says:

    My interest hasn’t really changed, I’m still heavily considering a day 1 purchase if the reviews are favorable. Being further removed from GTAV might actually help sales IMHO.
    As far as I’m concerned, good on them to take the time they need. Open world games are going to have a certain amount of jank regardless, you definitely don’t want to rush them.

  18. DickSocrates says:

    Latest trailer makes the story look painfully generic. Cyber-hax0rz in a strangely late 90s direct to DVD world. It reminded me strongly of Prototype with its shadowy messy computer room and “alt” hacker friend. The whole thing, thematically, seems very outdated. I could imagine it being one of those American TV shows that don’t create any buzz overseas and are shown as filler on Channel 5 or Sky. Starring Jim Caviezel.

    • jorygriffis says:

      This trailer definitely lets me know I’m not interested in the game. Who the hell wrote this stuff… and who actually thinks it’s cool?

  19. quijote3000 says:

    Talk about false advertising. There is barely any nudity. I saw more sideboobs on the oscars.

  20. Love Albatross says:

    There was a gameplay demo vid last year which made this game look painfully basic and linear. The ‘hacking’ seemed to involve nothing more than pointing at something and pressing a button, and all the stealth and combat mechanics appeared simplistic and very generic.

    If they’ve gone and spent time trying to resolve this I might be interested once more, but I think the chances of this ever living up to the hype created when they showed it off originally are slim.

    That’s what happens when you show off a game using a heavily choreographed and wildly ambitious vertical slice.

  21. HeroJez says:

    Watch_fucking_underscore_Dogs.

    Serious title.

  22. SillyWizard says:

    Something about the protagonist’s voice bothers me.

    What bothers me more is that the guy runs around slaughtering half the population of the city. Hooray for being a better man than whoever did something rude to your niece…?

  23. Megakoresh says:

    Well, no bad news have been heard about the actual game so far have they? Surely the fact that they did not put forward a broken game and waited to polish it is a good thing? That’s what a lot of companies don’t do. Thief, while it had a good excuse (many games that would have stolen audience), was released quite broken and incredibly frustrating. A lot of design oversights in that game could have been fixed with a month worth of adjustments.

    Not saying that dogs won’t have any problems on launch, the first ones are always a bit weird if not mutated, but I am not loosing faith just yet, this still looks like an exciting new breed. I just hope the leash will be longer than the one Ubisoft had for the pale white ones.

  24. Mr Propellerhead says:

    Kudos chaps, on being one of the few sites that doesn’t consider it too difficult to type an underscore.

  25. Michael Fogg says:

    I hope the minimap isn’t broken! And all the icons! And the collectibles! And the character upgrades!

  26. sinister agent says:

    I was just wondering what had happened to this, whether I’d perhaps missed it over the last ridiculous six months I’ve had. Still looking forward to it, and am actually quite pleased that Fubisot are willing to face problems with it head on rather than shove it out anyway on a wave of hype.

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    ffordesoon says:

    It looks like it might a great game, but the story bits in that trailer are pretty weak, excellent voice work (except, predictably, for Grunty Protagonist Man) notwithstanding. Hopefully they won’t be as numerous as they are in a lot of Ubi’s games.

  28. DrManhatten says:

    Hmm watching that trailer is it just me or does anyone else from suffering from Payne deja-vu. Please make the payne stop!

    • Megakoresh says:

      There is a bit of payne in there sure, but I didn’t see them go to the max with it…

  29. Dakia says:

    So July/August for PC then?

  30. mistar_uck says:

    It looks like a Tom Cruise’s movie. I…I’m not sure if it’s a bad or a good thing..