Watch Dogs could have shipped on time, producer says

Today, Ubisoft announced Watch Dogs' new release date: May 27. It's about half a year after the game was originally supposed to ship, before Ubisoft very suddenly delayed the game just a month before launch.

Senior producer Dominic Guay says that the last-minute delay happened because "we still could have shipped" the game on time. "It was not like we were failing miserably, the game didn't work, or it couldn't be played! We'd been playing this game from front to back for so long it really looked like this would happen."

"For quite a while, it really looked like we'd make it," Guay explained on the UbiBlog. "We had the game playable front-to-back in spring [2013], which meant we had like five, six months ahead of us to iterate and debug, which is more time than a lot of games need."

However, playtests made the developers realize that the game world wasn't balanced. Some parts of the city were being visited much more than others. "So we actually produced more content that would fit into the areas where the players went more, moved content around a little bit, looked at it again, played it again," Guay said. "Iterating on this huge of a game takes a while," which explained the last-minute decision to delay the game.

The added months of development time did give Ubisoft the ability to introduce new features into the game as well. For example, Aiden can hack into NPC's communication devices to block them from calling in reinforcements. But, someone proposed: "What if we had high-pitch, high-volume sound push into those headset? How would someone react to that?" This new gameplay element is a small tweak introduced in the game's extended development, but "it created a lot of new emergent moments, a lot of new ways for the player to be smart with hacking," Guay said. "You can imagine how someone would react to that while he's shooting a gun or is in cover or while he's preparing to throw a grenade!"

At the end of the day, Guay is grateful for the delay. "I don't know if I'm going to get that luxury every time I ship a game, but in this case it really was beneficial. It was really what we needed to ship the game we wanted to ship."