When the latest generation of consoles was officially announced, Ubisoft seemed to be the dominant third party for every console. With one or two release titles and more to be released soon after, they had a lot on their plate. Unfortunately, it looks like the pressure caught up to them. Today on the Ubisoft blog, they regretfully announced that both Watch_Dogs and The Crew are being delayed, Watch_Dogs until 2014 and The Crew until fiscal year 2014-2015, which means no earlier than April.
While the delay is distressing enough, the real question is: what happens to everyone’s pre-order bundles that included Watch_Dogs?
Amazon posted on their Facebook page saying:
For those of you who pre-order the Watch Dogs PlayStation 4 bundle—don’t worry—you will still be getting your Playstation 4 (without Watch Dogs) based on your current delivery estimate. We are adjusting the orders now and will update you once we know more.
Gamestop (via Kotaku) had a similar statement.
With the news that Ubisoft has delayed the release of the highly-anticipated title Watch Dogs until next year, GameStop is contacting customers who had reserved PlayStation 4 and Xbox One bundles featuring the game. Customers can elect to keep their current bundle orders and their consoles will ship as scheduled with the game shipping separately once it is available or customers can choose another bundle to replace their current order. Customers should also note that there may be a difference in the price if selecting another bundle and that all reserved orders will be charged upon shipment.
While Ubisoft left these retailers in a bit of a sticky situation, it seems like at least Gamestop and Amazon are going to watch their customers' backs, which is a comfort. Watch_Dogs was one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, and now it won’t even hit shelves for the holidays. This could potentially cut sales quite a bit, so there is no doubt Ubisoft didn't make this decision lightly. I am concerned by how these two games mark the second and third delays in a row for Ubisoft (the first being Rayman Legends). Does Ubisoft consistently bite off more than they can chew, or is this just a symptom of a more malignant problem?
Ubisoft claims the delays are to provide “increased polish” for the games, and I don’t doubt that this is true. A finished product is definitely more polished than an unfinished one, but a delay this monumental is due to more than the games just needing more “polish.” There are many reasons games can fall behind production schedule, but they are usually discovered earlier than one month before release, so whatever the cause for the delay was very big and very last minute.
Hopefully whatever systematic problem Ubisoft has been facing recently gets figured out soon. I am looking forward to The Division too much to have it get canned or delayed to death.