Watch Dogs Legion (opens in new tab), Ubisoft's dystopian romp through the surveillance state city of London in the near future, has been delayed. It was slated to come out on March 6, 2020, but the company announced today that it will instead be released sometime during the company's 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2020. Rainbow Six Quarantine (opens in new tab) and Gods and Monsters (opens in new tab) were also delayed into the next fiscal year.
The delay announcements were accompanied by a significant reduction in financial targets (opens in new tab) for this fiscal year, from a previous target of €2.185 billion ($2.42 billion) in net bookings to €1.450 ($1.61 billion). The downturn was attributed to the loss of expected revenues from Legion, Quarantine, and Gods and Monsters in this fiscal year, as well as "a sharp downward revision in the revenues expected from Ghost Recon Breakpoint and, to a lesser extent, The Division 2."
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot acknowledged that those two games fell far short of expectations. "For Ghost Recon Breakpoint, while the game’s quality appeared on track—based on E3, Gamescom, previews and our latest internal playtests—critical reception and sales during the game’s first weeks were very disappointing," he said. "As we have done with past titles, we will continue to support the game and listen to the community in order to deliver the necessary improvements."
Guillemot said Breakpoint stumbled for three main reasons: Interest in sequels to live multiplayer games is limited; "gameplay innovations" in Breakpoint were not "perfectly implemented"; and it "did not come in with enough differentiation factors, which prevented the game’s intrinsic qualities from standing out."
You can't keep punching out same-looking sequels to live multiplayer games and expect to get away with it forever, in other words—especially when they're not in absolutely tip-top technical shape when they go out the doors, which Breakpoint was not (opens in new tab). That's part of what motivated Ubisoft to pump the brakes on Legion and the rest.
"While each of these games already has a strong identity and high potential, we want our teams to have more development time to ensure that their respective innovations are perfectly implemented so as to deliver optimal experiences for players," Guillemot said.
"This decision will have a very significant impact on our financial results for this fiscal year and goes against our recent successes in building a more stable development model. However, it is in line with our strategy to maximize the future value of our brands for the long-term benefit of our employees, players and shareholders."
It's a big and disruptive move, but not entirely unprecedented. After Assassin's Creed: Syndicate came out in 2015 to okay-but-not-great reviews, Ubisoft took a year off (opens in new tab) and then came back with Assassin's Creed: Origins, "one of the strongest games in the series."