We suspect the name Watch_Dogs will prompt a similar reaction from some Wii U owners as Rayman Legends, and not in a positive way for Ubisoft. The company's decision to delay the Wii U version to arrive after other platforms unsurprisingly didn't go down well, so confirmation of a 27th May release on other systems will have brought no joy to Nintendo gamers.
No window has even been given for the Wii U iteration, though senior producer Dominic Guay has told Polygon only that a 2014 release is a "possibility", which hardly fills us with confidence. He also explained, however, that the Bucharest team responsible for the Wii U version — all other builds have been developed primarily by teams in Montreal — has been given the responsibility of utilising the Wii U's capabilities and its GamePad.
We don't have a specific ship date for it yet so it's considered within the year. So we're going to look at that and we're going to let people know as soon as we figure out an exact date for it.
We have our studio in Bucharest working on it, and we wanted that team to have the time to explore the GamePad and be able to have fun with it and see how far they could push it. It's also an interesting platform, because it has its own strength, which we want to take advantage of, and we didn't want to delay all the other platforms for that one. So we're going to take the time we need to make sure the game is good (technically) when we ship it and that it also, game design-wise, makes good use of the specifics of the Wii U.
I mean, for our game, when we play with everything being connected, we need to make smart use of it. And also, the Wii U came along at some point in our production, so it planned through for it, and now to a certain extent we wanted to be ambitious with it, be able to go full-on and make full use of the platform. That's why we're taking more time, but it's being worked on so that's good.
Guay did also highlight, however, that there were technical challenges in bringing the game to the Wii U. As has often been highlighted the Wii U is a capable machine, but its architecture does have a different setup to other systems, adding an extra degree of challenge for teams used to Sony and Microsoft hardware.
It wasn't running on Wii U initially. They were the perfect team to do it. Our Bucharest studio is super strong, super strong engineers and I was impressed by how quickly they got to get the game running on the console. And they were so autonomous in doing it. Obviously we're communicating and we're working together, but they were so quick and smart in doing it, it still made sense for them to keep ownership. Obviously they're using the same game content, so they're not building other game content. It's the same game content that we'll adapt for the needs of the specific needs of Wii U. But at the core, same game, but they made all the technical adjustments for it.
While undoubtedly positive that the game will utilise the Wii U's interface and controller in potentially clever ways, we'd suggest that at this stage these comments act primarily as damage control. As we've argued in editorials previously, the delay will hamper the chances of the Wii U iteration further, especially as those desperate to play it will likely blink and pick it up for another system; Wii U-only owners, meanwhile, may in some cases resent the wait. The absence of a release window beyond '2014' is also a concern. Those issues aside, the style and themes of this game could undoubtedly fit well with the GamePad and features such as Miiverse.
Where do you stand on Watch_Dogs for Wii U and Dominic Guay's statements?