A Lot Is Riding On Watch Dogs For Wii UFiled inside: Editorial
The beginning of this year saw a lot of news focusing on Ubisoft’s promising upcoming intellectual property Watch Dogs. Surprisingly, it had absolutely nothing to do with any new exciting or innovative features the game might sport or even if it was being delayed again. No, news focused on whether or not the game would see release on the Wii U. Due to the humdrum status of Nintendo’s flagging console, an unfortunately believable rumor was making rounds that the Wii U version, and only the Wii U version, was being abandoned.
According to the Italian branch of massive global gaming retailer, GameStop, pre-orders for Watch Dogs specific to the Wii U were being canceled. As the SKU for the Nintendo version became unavailable in the retailer’s database, customers were receiving distressing calls that summarily advised them to move their pre-orders to other games that would actually see release. Naturally, the internet and gaming media quickly ran with it. Valid questions like “What would this move mean for Nintendo?” and the like made for some gloomy, yet legitimately concerned articles.
It didn’t take long for GameStop to quash the rumor as the retailer swiftly recanted the statement. The error was blamed on a glitch in the company’s system. The Wii U version of Watch Dogs was once again available for pre-order and some of the concerns for Nintendo’s wellbeing subsided.
Just this last week, however, rumors resurfaced wildly. Nintendo recently published its official release schedule of 2014 games and intrepid readers were quick to notice that it featured a very significant exclusion: Watch Dogs. Granted, there is the fine print that that “software titles are based on the information as of January 30, 2014” and that “launch schedule, software names etc. are subject to change.” Normally, something like that would do little to ease the minds of consumers.
However, this did provide some hope for Wii U owners as Ubisoft had reportedly, and curiously, abandoned the Watch Dogs trademark. Was a change in name in the works? If so, the title’s absence on Nintendo’s release schedule would make sense. That would mean the game wasn’t canceled. It would mean once Ubisoft decided on a new name, the game would reappear in Nintendo’s lineup. That trademark news didn’t last long, however. Ubisoft submitted a new filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office claiming that the abandonment filing was faked. The company wasn’t abandoning the Watch Dogs name.
So, here we are again, with rumors circulating that Watch Dogs isn’t coming to Nintendo’s console. Providing some great credibility to the buzz of the canceled Wii U version is that the developers at Ubisoft Montréal had confirmed via twitter that the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions were still in development and on track for release. Tellingly, when asked directly, the studio declined to comment on whether or not the game would still make it to the Wii U.
Whether or not the game does make an appearance on the Wii U is pretty significant. It may be a multi-platform title, but losing it would prove an incredibly substantial blow to Nintendo as it already has a dearth of third party support. EA has publicly abandoned and derided the console, while Warner Bros. has slowly been pulling support for the system. Both of these companies were featured prominently as partners during Nintendo’s last two actual E3 presentations.
Ubisoft remains as one of the final third party developers to provide any quality backing and Watch Dogs is its most ambitious game of the new generation. We’ll learn the outcome of this sad saga soon enough as Watch Dogs is finally set to release in the first quarter of Ubisoft’s fiscal year, which begins in April. And if the Wii U version really is canceled, Nintendo will be in even more dire straits than it already is. Since the company is already spreading itself thin developing quality games for the 3DS in addition to its home console, where and how far can Nintendo possibly take the Wii U without any third party support? It could spell the end of the Wii U.
UPDATE: Ubisoft released its own 2014 product schedule today and it lists Watch Dogs as coming to every known platform, including the Wii U. Whether or not that pans out remains to be seen as the company still declines to comment on that version’s status.