Watch Dogs downgrade backlash changed the way Ubisoft reveals games

Generating hype is a big part of large gaming events, but at E3 2015 last month, Ubisoft took a rather relaxed position compared to some of the other companies in attendance.

It is a new turn for Ubisoft, who are still scarred from the failures of Watch Dogs, its premiere game launched last year. It received a huge amount of criticism for a downgrade in quality compared to the 2012 trailers, although at the time Ubisoft denied those claims.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said at this year’s E3 2015 the company would only show games capable of running. Speaking to The Guardian, Guillemot confirmed all games (apart from Ghost Recon Wildlands) were available to play at the event.

“With E3 2015 we said, OK, let’s make sure the games are playable, that they’re running on the target machines. When we show something, we ask the team, make sure it’s playable, make sure gamers can immediately see exactly what it is. That’s what we learned from the Watch Dogs experience—if it can’t be played on the target machine, it can be a risk.”

That did mean downgrades to the in-game footage for Tom Clancy’s The Division, previously shown off with some awesome facial and weather effects. Looks like Ubisoft has scaled back on the graphical end of things for that game before launch, instead of having another Watch Dogs incident.

Even though the timid event did lead to a lack of major announcements, it also meant what we see from Ubisoft is what we will get; hopefully. There is still some worry that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege will receive some knock-backs.

One problem with Ubisoft’s new “authenticity” goal is the multiplayer it shows at events. It has scripted voice actors for games like Rainbow Six Siege and The Division, when realistically the communication between in-game players will never be like that. The fact it doesn’t ever disclose that those were in-game players is also a bit disingenuous, as it is so scripted some players might think it is AI inside the game.

Ubisoft had major problems in 2014 with games not functioning properly on PC to misleading trailers. This had an effect on the Ubisoft’s stock price, with investors thinking the lack of consumer respect would have an knock-on effect on the sales of future games.