Like many others, I was pumped when Watch Dogs was announced at Ubisoft’s E3 2012 press conference. This game was definitive NextGen material, and would fly off the shelves with the release of the NextGen consoles, I thought. It was the big launch title for both brand new systems. It had new gameplay – a relief to many. The NextGen graphics looked amazing. And a strong team of developers stood behind it, showcasing it as the game of the future. Watch Dogs just looked flat out fun.
With the hype building, Ubisoft then made the first big blow to the game’s hype train – a delayed release. On October 15th, 2013 Ubisoft announced that Watch Dogs needed more time to be polished, and that they were going to delay the game. This is a huge blow to any game, although with Watch Dogs having been a launch title for NextGen consoles, the damage was even worse than usual. I do want to make it clear that I’m not doubting the decision to delay a game because it needs more time. Most of the time, this is for the better. Or in the curious case of Battlefield 4, it could have been for the better (I’m looking at you, EA). That being said, announcing a revolutionary game as a NextGen launch title should come with a level of responsibility. Many people buy these new consoles for the launch titles, so when Ubisoft announced the delay, people were rightfully upset and retailers had to figure out how to fix this for people who had already preordered the Watch Dogs + Console bundle.
Over the last few months, Watch Dogs fell off the radar for many people. It was especially drowned out by the release of Dark Souls II and Titanfall. Recently though, accompanying the announcement of the new release date (May 27th, 2014), a trailer was released that was intended to give people some insight about the story. Hopefully, it would also restore some of the lost hype. Unfortunately, this trailer had the opposite effect. It was pointed out that some of the scenes in the new trailer actually had worse graphics than the E3 trailer, likely to accommodate the release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Many fans even went as far as calling the game “hideous”. Ubisoft soon released another trailer, showing off the graphics engine, restoring some hope in the game. It isn’t yet confirmed if the graphics were downgraded. My only question is why Ubisoft would show a trailer with the Xbox 360/PS3 version as opposed to showcasing the power of their NextGen graphics at any opportunity possible?
Don’t get me wrong, Watch Dogs looks like a phenomenal game and I really hope that it delivers. I think with the release approaching quicker than ever, some of the lost hype will naturally start to pick up again. It was sad, though, to have so much excitement for something only forget about it for months on end. Hopefully, Ubsioft will make fans proud in the next month and a half, and not derail the hype train any further.