The Downfall of Watch Dogs: Where Did Ubisoft Go Wrong?

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Watch Dogs Legion Sealed The IP's Fate!

Story Highlights
  • The latest leak indicates that Ubisoft has buried Watch Dogs.
  • Given how much innovation it brought to open-world games, it’s disappointing for such a franchise to be shelved.
  • The initial marketing caused controversy, and follow-ups faced an identity crisis.
  • Due to its clustered ideas and mediocre results, Watch Dogs Legion sealed the franchise’s fate.

Ubisoft’s luck hasn’t been that great in recent years, with the once-leading publisher facing numerous layoffs and cancellations. Many of Ubisoft’s flagship IPs have been put on hold, leaving the company to focus primarily on games like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.

Among these casualties is Watch Dogs, with recent reports indicating that Ubisoft has discontinued the franchise for good. Despite being one of the studio’s staple IPs, Watch Dogs didn’t find enough commercial success to warrant new entries.

While I profoundly adore the series, it’s hard for me to oversee the mistakes it has made in recent years. Yet, It saddens me to see the IP being shelved.

Why it matters: This franchise was once said to be a rival to Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IP. While audiences await GTA 6 next year, we can only look back at Watch Dogs with regret and sadness.

Too Many Big Promises

YouTube video

When the first gameplay footage of Watch Dogs was shown in 2012, many, including me, were shocked at how detailed and graphically impressive the game looked. It felt like a proper next-gen offering at the time.

However, the released product was far from what was promised in the gameplay trailers, overshadowing everything worth praising. I consider this entry to be slightly underrated for this reason.

The original release was a mixed bag, and many people were immediately turned off by Ubisoft’s tendency to overpromise and under-deliver. Therefore, the franchise was already cursed at launch.

Still, Watch Dogs was a solid first game in my book. It sold 10 million copies for a reason, setting the stage for something much bigger with enough planning.

Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 Was A Huge Departure From The First Title

The Stagnation of Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs 2, like its predecessor, sold 10 million units. It was yet another solid entry but failed to push the IP to new heights. Compared to a sequel like Uncharted 2 that moved its IP forward, Watch Dogs 2 could not redefine expectations.

It also marked a major shift from the original’s style, alienating some of the fanbase in the process. Ubisoft followed its model of releasing multiple games in a short span, giving the teams little time to figure out a solid direction.

The first two entries were released within two years, and Legion followed four years after the second game. This was not nearly enough time to course-correct, and it showed once the final game was met with mixed reviews.

While the series sold well enough, it was simply more lucrative for Ubisoft to focus on other IPs.

Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs Had Interesting Ideas But Didn’t Know Where To Go

An Identity Crisis

While I appreciate Ubisoft’s innovation with the Watch Dogs games, the developer tried too hard with the series. Each of the entries in the series is entirely different from the others.

The first game had a darker noir aspect, which I enjoyed at the time. However, Watch Dogs 2 took a vibrant humorist approach, in addition to a fantastic recreation of Chicago.

On its own, the sequel was great. However, it was not the sequel I expected. Once fans began to appreciate the original release for its core concepts, Ubisoft had already gone in a widely different direction.

Watch Dogs Legion was yet another massive departure. However, this entry was nowhere near as great as its predecessor. Since it lacked a proper protagonist, the experience felt disconnected from the player.

The ability to play as any character was solid on paper, but I was only left with disappointment after playing Watch Dogs Legion. The game felt like a clutter of great ideas poorly mashed together, resulting in an abomination.

All said and done, if it wasn’t for the gameplay footage controversy, I believe that Watch Dogs could be one of the biggest franchises for Ubisoft right now. The series deserves better treatment, and I hope that Ubisoft fixes its mistake at some point.

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