Ubisoft called in some unexpected news earlier today when it delayed Watch Dogs into the vague window of spring 2014. The Chicago-based sandbox excursion had been set to tap into systems next month, but now it will be locked down until next year. The shock decision will have a negative impact on each of the major home consoles’ Christmas lineups – but it’s hard not to feel that the PlayStation 4 has drawn the short end of the straw. What does the revelation mean for the launch of Sony’s next generation system, though – and is the announcement as disastrous as some observers are making out?
There’s no doubt that the platform holder will be seething at the move. As alluded in our earlier article, the firm had very much positioned the hack happy escapade as a key launch title, opting to spotlight it at both its PlayStation Meeting press conference earlier in the year and again during its E3 keynote back in June. Furthermore, the game has featured prominently in all of the machine’s marketing materials, from demo kiosks right through to point of sale stands. All of that promotional work will still be worthwhile when the game deploys next year, but it’s definitely put a dampener on the ‘Perfect Day’.
Indeed, it leaves an already paltry launch day offering without one of its standout performers. Killzone: Shadow Fall is still certain to take centre stage when the supercharged system ships in exactly one month’s time, but many were counting on Aiden Pearce’s adventure adding some much needed variety to the roster. Outside of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Knack, there’s now very few notable retail titles to choose from unless you like sports, racing, or military games. It may be piggybacking on the success of Grand Theft Auto, but Watch Dogs is at least doing something out of the ordinary.
The delay puts the platform holder in an inopportune position with regards to multiplatform games, too. Microsoft has formed alliances with EA and Activision to secure content promotions for FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, and Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Xbox One. The Japanese giant had clearly intended to counter that with its own co-marketing initiatives on Ubisoft’s games. However, it will have to make do with just Edward Kenway’s seafaring escapade now, perhaps perpetuating the notion that the PS4 is slouching in the software department.
Is the delay truly catastrophic news, though, as some have been saying? Well, it’s definitely disappointing, but it’s important not to get carried away. We got to watch a hands-off demo of the open world game last month, and were extremely underwhelmed. The gameplay footage that comprised a large chunk of the presentation looked unpolished, meaning that the delay may well be justified. It must have taken guts on the French publisher’s end to postpone the game, but if it culminates in a more enjoyable product in the long run, then it’s hard to really argue with the decision.
Furthering that, its overdue arrival may actually benefit the PS4 in the long run. With the manufacturer’s next generation console already sold out on pre-orders alone, it's going to have no trouble shifting stock this holiday – but many have been pondering whether the machine will maintain that momentum once the initial hype has died down. The company is clearly banking on both inFAMOUS: Second Son and Destiny swatting any potential apathy, and now it has Watch Dogs to add to its early 2014 arsenal. With Microsoft flagrantly flaunting the semi-exclusivity of Titanfall on the Xbox One, the firm will need all of the ammunition that it can muster next year.
It’s regrettable news, then – but it’s not the end of the world. As long as the platform holder can find a satisfactory alternative for those that have already pre-ordered a bundle featuring the game, we doubt that the delay will have an enormous impact on the PS4. Granted, you may need to reconsider your launch day haul, but the added development time should benefit the release in the long run. We just hope that Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has the good sense to ignore any calls from Sony executive Jack Tretton. Y’know, at least until the dust has settled.
Are you disappointed by Ubisoft’s decision to delay Watch Dogs? Do you think that it will have an impact on the PS4? What are you planning to pick up at release in place of the sandbox release? Upload your opinion in the comments section and poll below.
How badly do you think Watch Dogs’ delay will affect the PS4? (43 votes)
It’s disappointing, but I don’t think it’s a major deal
To be honest, I’m not really sure
I’m actually considering cancelling my pre-order now
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