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Watch Dogs sells 4 million copies, partially thanks to Ubisoft's delay

So here’s the deal--Watch Dogs sold 4 million copies in its first week at retail. Ubisoft is calling this the “best-selling new IP launch across the industry,” and it’s hard to argue that. After all, 1 million of those sales happened within the first 24 hours of the game’s launch. But what’s interesting is not just the number of sales alone--it's the number of sales when held up to a total drop-off of anticipation.

Excitement reached a fever pitch after the Watch Dogs' reveal at E3 2012. We saw what appeared to be a modern day, technology-driven counterpart to another premiere Ubisoft franchise, Assassin’s Creed. It was a unique IP amidst a sea of sequels, with the promise of a true next generation experience. The hype train was getting ready to start rolling--then seemingly right when it was leaving the station, the hype came to an abrupt stop. Watch Dogs was bumped from its projected fall 2013 release date into spring 2014, deflating much of the next-gen hype Ubisoft spent money building up, and leaving pre-order customers in dismay.

So why, after such a faux pas, is Watch Dogs so successful? The answer is simple: Ubisoft had a good game, and they knew it. Its developers stuck to their guns, with full knowledge that delaying the game to polish the experience could only strengthen the finished product.

They publicly explained the delay--Ubisoft took the extra development time for said polish to the game’s appearance and mechanics. Shigeru Miyamoto once said, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." A wise statement, though Watch Dogs wasn’t “eventually” good. Ubisoft knew they had a hit all along, and they took the extra time to take it from good, to better, to the best possible version.

Despite a delayed release and a drop-off of interest, Watch Dogs has become an Ubisoft best-seller--a 4 million best-seller in fact. In the end, they proved that holding back release to put finishing touches on a promising title was the smartest move they could have made. Kind of makes me wonder if the Batman: Arkham Knight delay even matters.

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13 comments

  • Divine Paladin - June 5, 2014 4:03 a.m.

    The Akham delay may matter more since it's next-gen exclusive. I believe GR itself said that it was the first true next-generation game; that means many people can wait a few more months to buy one of the powerhouse consoles. Which ties back in to the GR's rabid complaints that the 8th gen is lackluster. Also, I'm assuming the parallel MK8 sales article is being held off on for a few days to determine the tone of the article (Nintendoom if it doesn't keep selling like it did the first three days, or slightly less Nintendoom if it does).
  • Jackonomics2.0 - June 5, 2014 6:12 a.m.

    In comparison, we have 4 million for Watch Dogs first week, with Mario Kart 8 getting 1.2 million in 3 days. The focal point is the fact that Mario Kart 8 is on one console vs A Multiplatform including last and current gen. Frankly it means 2 things, 1. Watch Dogs 4 mil isn't impressive, or Mario Kart's sales are really impressive, but I digress, it's too early for both, especially since Nintendo games go for long term. And that they aren't 2 things meant for comparison, it's like trying to compare Wonderful 101 sales to GTA V. No point.
  • jh4911 - June 7, 2014 4:28 a.m.

    The difference is Mario kart is an established franchise with millions of dedicated fans. Whereas Watch dogs is an IP. Comparing the two is somewhat missing the point.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - June 7, 2014 6:25 p.m.

    Thats what i just said, they arent meant for comparison.
  • jh4911 - June 7, 2014 7:47 p.m.

    But you are comparing them: "Watch Dogs 4 mil isn't impressive, or Mario Kart's sales are really impressive". It's possible that both figures are impressive (or not, depending on ones judgement). I'm aware that you said they aren't meant for comparison, but that makes your previous statement somewhat superfluous.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - June 10, 2014 3:06 p.m.

    Im taking it at eye value, my comparison is complete bullshit and i acknowledge it.
  • GOD - June 4, 2014 9:46 p.m.

    $4 million is really good for a new IP, but can we compare the marketing budget of this to any other new IP? Since it was delayed, and marketed heavily both initially and recently (a lot both times) I would think they spent quite a bit to make sure everyone knew and thought they had to buy it.
  • GOD - June 4, 2014 9:53 p.m.

    For instance, games like Blur and Singularity reviewed well (same score as Watch Dogs on GR for both) but because they had basically no advertising they were huge flops in terms of sales. Unfortunately it seems like what games will live on as franchises are ones that sell, and not necessarily the best games, and which games sell will be determined mostly by the men in suits who decide which game they think deserves 95% of the publishers marketing budget while all the other games have to split the remaining 5% on a few banner ads on game sites.
  • ombranox - June 5, 2014 12:30 a.m.

    It didn't make 4 million DOLLARS. It made 4 million SALES. Which is more than (using a series I know off the bat) Dead Space 1 and 2 combined as of 2013.
  • ThundaGawd - June 7, 2014 2:50 a.m.

    It didn't make $4 million, it sold 4 million COPIES. Considering a brand new copy goes for ~60$, they made a solid ~$240 million in their first week, which is quite impressive.
  • brickman409 - June 4, 2014 9:43 p.m.

    Yeah that delay really payed off, it's only buggy as all hell on the PC, and can barely run on even the most high end hardware. Not to mention that the games doesn't look anywhere near as good as the E3 2012 demo.
  • shawksta - June 4, 2014 7:36 p.m.

    Thats questionable honestly. But good on them and good luck to the Wii U version they clearly want to do good with but nobody will buy.

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