Ubisoft has released the unfortunate news that Watch Dogs has been delayed from holiday 2013 to a spring 2014 release window. While Ubisoft is citing "extra polish" as the main reason for the delay, that seems unlikely for a game so late in its development cycle. Still, for a AAA game release planned for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC with both single player and multiplayer there are any number of logical reasons for a delay.
Ubisoft Communications Manager Gary Steinman wrote up the following statement:
"We know a lot of you are probably wondering: Why now? 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."
I'll say it again, with less than a month left before Watch Dogs initially planned release date on current-gen consoles, "extra polish" is extremely unlikely. What other reasons could there be to delay a game this close to launch? Manufacturing issues, for one, as in there aren't enough games being made to meet demand. Platform issues is another possibility, as in the game isn't running well on Microsoft hardware. Or perhaps Ubisoft is having server and tech issues with its multiplayer, which another aspect of many games put together at the last minute, prior to launch.
What I expect, however, and seems to be a common thought in the industry, is that Ubisoft simply wants a better release environment for such a big game. Not only was Watch Dogs positioned to compete with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, another Ubisoft multiplatform AAA title, but also against a console launch with many huge profiled platform exclusives. Spring is simply a more profitable timeframe.
Whatever the reasons may be, Watch Dogs' delay is certainly disappointing. Still, these things happen in the gaming industry while some gamers are certain to be extremely bitter (and vocally so), the majority of us just want Watch Dogs to be the best game it can be. Hopefully it will be that game in spring 2014.