Opinion: Why I’m Happy About Watch Dogs’ Delay

by Tim Turi on Oct 16, 2013 at 01:35 PM

Confession: I silently celebrate when some games are delayed. I sighed with relief when I heard Ubisoft’s ambitious open-world hacking game, Watch Dogs, was delayed earlier this week. I’m not some Grinch who finds joy imagining the game missing from a hopeful gamer’s Christmas stocking.  Rather, the steady supply of impressive, polished, and content-rich video games these days is overwhelming. Watch Dogs’ delay into next year gives my holiday elbow room and means the game will likely be better when I do get my hands on it.

The delay of Watch Dogs has immediate financial implications for Ubisoft. Fortunately, I don’t work there, so I don’t have to worry about that directly affecting my life.  But I do remember Shigeru Miyamoto once saying, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” If the delay means the citizens of Watch Dogs’ Chicago won’t be clipping through buildings or glitching off into the stratosphere as in last year’s Assassin’s Creed III, then this postponement is in everyone’s best interest. Watch Dogs is an exciting, new, unproven triple-A game. The stakes for these risky ventures are high for publishers, and it needs to be polished out of the box if the series is to have a bright future.

This holiday season is going to be teeming with ambitious open world games from established franchises. GTA Online is finally somewhat stable and ready for true exploration. Batman: Arkham Origins opens Gotham City back up to the public. Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag finally lets gamers be a badass pirate. The Xbox One’s Dead Rising 3 is poised to heighten the lunacy of slaying zombies to a new level. Even if a flawless version of Watch Dogs released this holiday, its voice might be drowned out by these juggernauts. Next year is looking a little less crowded.

Open world games demand serious time investments, even if you stick to the critical path. The selfish part of me is relieved to have one less massive world to explore. My time is also freed up to tinker with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s new UI, the unique indie titles that are on the way, and an intimidating backlog that dates back to Metroid Prime (I’m a monster). The days are dense with good games, and being able to put one off makes managing my hobby and passion a bit more realistic.

Watch Dogs looks great, and I’ve been on board with it since it was first revealed at E3 2012. Ubisoft aims to put incredible technological power in the hands of gamers via a smartphone that can hack into and control everything from traffic lights to laptop cameras. I’m as excited to raise hell in Chicago as everyone else, but I’m glad it’s slipped out of the holiday rush into next year.