Ubisoft's upcoming open-world hacker vigilante game Watch Dogs sounds like a very ambitious endeavor. As protagonist Aiden Pearce, players can explore an alternate version of Chicago where just about anything that uses the central operation system (ctOS) - be it ATMs, cars, traffic lights, phones, laptops, security cameras or keypads - can be hacked, and Aiden can use his hacking skills to learn basic information about anyone who passes him in the street. This means that he spends much of the time looking at his smartphone, so he probably ends up walking into a lot of lampposts.
Hacking isn't a new element in gaming, of course, but it's usually relegated to minigames like the "Pipe Dream" hacking mechanism in BioShock. In Watch Dogs the hacking will be the most prominent gameplay mechanic and the most powerful weapon that Aiden has against both criminals and cops, with shooting and car-stealing taking something of a back seat. However, since computers in the real world experience bugs and glitches, fictional computer systems within a game being played on a real computer system are twice as susceptible to glitches - that's just science.
Therefore, as a means of ironing out the rough edges of Watch Dogs and ensuring that the game runs properly in release, Ubisoft has released a statement explaining that Watch Dogs has now been delayed until spring 2014. Written by the Watch Dogs development teams, the statement explains:
"We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience."
While this might be disappointing for those who were looking forward to playing Watch Dogs soon, the developers do offer some decent justification for it. Anyone's who's ever bought a game on day one only to find it full of bugs, glitches and unfinished elements knows how badly this can spoil a first playthrough, and holding off on the release is probably a lot better than the "ship now, patch later" approach. Now that the developers have been given a few extra months to work on polishing and fine-tuning, however, Watch Dogs had better run smoothly when it finally arrives.
There are other factors that probably bolstered Ubisoft's decision to delay. As the first game in a planned franchise and a next-gen launch title, Watch Dogs needs to sell a lot of units in order to strongly establish the new property, and its former release date would have meant competing with Ubisoft's other upcoming sandbox game, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The Assassin's Creed series is actually a good cautionary example of why Watch Dogs' extra months in development could be a positive sign, as Assassin's Creed III in particular felt a little unfinished when it was rushed out only a year after Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
Tell us in the comments if you think the delay is justified, or if you think that Ubisoft should have pulled Watch Dogs together in time for the original November release date.
Watch Dogs will be available for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in spring 2014.