I remember when the first Watch Dogs was announced, I was really excited for it, looked really cool, and the idea of hacking being a major part of game play sounded awesome, it was going to be the first game I bought for my new Xbox One since it was a confirmed launch title. Oh, wait that’s right Ubisoft delayed the game for six months, only weeks before the Xbox One, and PS4 launched. So the game is released on May 27 2014, great it should be pretty solid then since the developers had extra time to work on it, yea not so much. So the first thing that happened was a save game bug that bit a lot of customer across all platforms, you were basically unable to load your saved game, it took weeks for a fix to be released.
The other thing is the game did not look as good as what had been shown at various events, the reviews at the time of release were not bad, but playing it was an underwhelming experience. In the case of Watch Dogs 2 the reviews are better than the first game, but I think a lot of people had such a bad experience with the first Watch Dogs that they are not interested in the sequel.
It’s hard for me to think of a Ubisoft game released in the last couple of years that did not have some major issue or issues upon release, Yea I’m looking at you Assassins Creed Unity, I even remember having a problem with Assassins Creed Black Flag DLC. All this leads up to why I didn’t preorder Watch Dogs 2, and why I still have not bought it yet, it has some issues, and I’m waiting for them to be fixed before I buy it. At this point I expect any Ubisoft game that comes out to have some problems when it’s released, therein lies the problem, when you consistently release buggy games, you develop a reputation amongst your customers.
Now if a game is released on PC and has some problems I get it, there are probably tens of thousands of hardware configurations, and it’s next to impossible to take them all into account when development, and testing is going on. I also understand that sometimes when you fix a bug when coding a game, you might inadvertently create another one, little known fact I used to do a little programming back in the day. On console this should not be a big problem because all the hardware is the same, or changes very little so tracking down bugs in the code is a lot easier.
I think the lackluster sales are due to consumers getting tired of dealing with broken games, and developers not delivering on what they promise. I rarely preorder games anymore, especially if it’s a Ubisoft title, I usually wait until some reviews drop, and see if there are any reports of bugs. Another thing that might be a factor is release dates, if you have several different titles coming out at about the same time, like Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Call of Duty, and Watch Dogs 2 a lot of gamers are going to have to make a choice about which games to buy. It might not hurt for the publishers to spread out the release dates throughout the year, and not hold everything until the holidays.
Unfortunately Ubisoft now has a bad reputation among gamers, they seem to have a mind set of, if it’s broke we will fix it later just make the release date, and I have to believe this is coming from management. I really hope they get their act together, Ubisoft continues to make some really cool games, all they have to do is make sure they work.
What do you think Ubisoft can do to turn things around? Let us know in the comments.