If you were looking forward to playing Watch Dogs or The Crew then you’ll need to keep that enthusiasm up for quite a while longer. Ubisoft announced this week that Watch Dogs is being delayed until spring 2014 in order to give the development team enough time to finish polishing it up, before doubling up the bad news shortly afterward with the announcement that The Crew has also been delayed, and won’t come out until some time between July and September 2014.
A few of our readers who had already pre-ordered Watch Dogs as part of a bundle with PS4 asked what was going to happen to their orders in the light of the delay. Amazon and Gamestop have already issued statements assuring customers that their orders are still secure, and the most likely solution will be that customers will simply have to choose an alternative launch title to come with their new console.
As might be imagined, these two delays have had a significant impact on Ubisoft’s projected income for this fiscal year. CVG reports that Ubisoft’s initial forecast of $1.94 billion by the end of the 2013 fiscal year has now been adjusted down to a far more modest $1.38 billion.
Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez said during an earnings call that the delays of The Crew and Watch Dogs were the biggest factors that will lead to the company failing to hit its target income, but not the only factors. Recently released titles, including Rayman Legends and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, have apparently underperformed according to Ubisoft’s expectations.
There are numerous possible reasons why Rayman Legends and Splinter Cell: Blacklist might not have sold as many units as Ubisoft would have liked. Both games were delayed and released quite close to the launch of a new console generation, but that alone doesn’t seem like enough to kill gamers’ enthusiasm for these new entries in well-established franchises.
The more likely explanation is simply that Ubisoft’s projected sales were simply too high – similar to how Square Enix was disappointed earlier this year by Tomb Raider selling ‘only’ 3.8 million units in a single month. For example, Martinez also revealed during the earnings call that Ubisoft expects to sell over 2.5 million units of The Crew – a frankly unrealistic target for a driving game that’s also a new IP. The company is also anticipating that Watch Dogs, another new IP, will sell around 6 million units.
Despite the tempering of their income for this year, Ubisoft seems willing to take the hit in 2013 in the hopes of a major comeback during the 2014 fiscal year. VG24/7 reports that, after Ubisoft shares fell by up to 32%, the company issued a statement to shareholders assuring them that, “Our long-term goal is to win the next generation… We are building franchises that will become perennial pillars of Ubisoft’s financial performance.”
Rocky days for Ubisoft as the company waits out the end of this fiscal year and the advent of 2014. Do you think that those in charge really have a handle on things, or will their optimism and the game delays trip them up at the very start of the next generation?