Ubisoft is hoping for Grand Theft Auto V-level success for its cyberpunk dystopia.
"I'll tell you, at Gamescom, everybody was looking each other in the eye thinking we would be there at launch," says Ubisoft's Laurent Detoc. "Then eventually, a month later, we said, 'this is not gonna fly.' Then it takes a few more weeks to decide how we're going to package that news for everyone." Not a happy moment for anyone involved, particularly since Watch Dogs could have been the top launch title on both new consoles, Detoc believes.
It was a painful decision, but a necessary one. Watch Dogs just wasn't there yet, and it needed the extra time. Ubisoft could just shoot for a quick release and take the hit, but quality, thinks Detoc, is more important. It's about long term strategy, building up the brand; that creates loyalty, and fostering customer loyalty is good business.
"It's why we built all these studios. We have this motto inside the company: we want games to enrich people's lives. Starting from there, you give a lot of creative freedom to anybody and everybody who wants to do some game that can go along with that."
Ubisoft still believes Watch Dogs is a strong product, and has the potential to enjoy Grand Theft Auto V levels of success. All it really lacks is the history; Watch Dogs is a completely new IP, while GTA the brand is a hit-making juggernaut. "I can only hope we get to that level," says Detoc.