Some titles get a few months delay while others practically start over, and Watch Dogs push into 2014 even surprised Ubisoft insiders. It's "not where we want it to be."
Far Cry 3 was delayed some months while extra polish was applied while Splinter Cell: Conviction was a lengthier overhauling. Ubisoft's Laurent Detoc explains.
“It’s a very intense decision,” Detoc told . “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.”
The delay for Watch Dogs took even the company by surprise and it had to fight for the new 2014 date.
"I’ll tell you, at Gamescom, everybody was looking each other in the eye thinking we would be there at launch,” continued Detoc, Ubisoft's North American president. “There were already some lingering doubts, but we were plowing through it. There were more than a thousand people touching that game. 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."
"It’s not just about delaying for the sake of delaying it. No matter how hard we try, we also put out games that are not good quality, unfortunately. It’s not because we go out and say, ‘great, let’s make a piece of junk and put it out there.’ It’s really painful to us. But some games, you just can’t make them that much better because of how they’ve been progressing."
He continued: "Part of the decision to delay Watch Dogs is also that. 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.” Detoc is happy with Watch Dogs' future now it has been given more time.
"I actually believe that Watch Dogs could have ended up being the best-rated game on next gen if it came out at launch. We wanted it to be even higher,” he told IGN. “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."
"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.”
Ubisoft is in publishing control of another title that slipped this year - South Park: The Stick of Truth.
“It’s a huge brand. It’s interesting, because the South Park guys are extremely demanding. They’re very professional. They want the best for their brand. We get along with each other fairly well because we’re quite receptive to their requests. If we get to this level of quality, it’s going to be a bigger success,” he said.
“Their season ends at the beginning of December. We were all trying to lock this in. We looked at the game and we said, ‘we need to delay this.’ It was sort of preaching to the choir, because we knew they also wanted what was best for the product. But it was an easy decision, because we wanted to make a better product. It was not a good commercial decision at the time, because you’re going to miss those December sales. 18 months from now? I think we’ll make that up.”
Ubisoft didn't want to go against the South Park guys and release the 'bad South park game'.
“ 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. 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.”
"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.”
Watch Dogs releases on PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One and PS4 in Q2 2014.
South Park: The Stick of Truth releases on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 March 4th in the US, 7th in EU.