Every genre has a king. With fighting games, it’s Mortal Kombat that sits on that bloody throne. Racing games have a parliament that consists of Forza, Gran Turismo and Need for Speed. And when it comes to sandbox, GTA is still undoubtedly lord and master of that side of gaming. Over the years, there’ve been quite a few attempts to regicide that position away from GTA. Some have come close, others have failed miserably. But this year, it looks like Watch Dogs might be able to pull off a dethroning. Hell, they’re pretty confident about it themselves.
Speaking to EDGE, Ubisoft executive Alain Corre spoke about how the publisher and developer was hoping to turn Watch Dogs into a major brand, much like Assassin’s Creed. “What we want with Watch Dogs is to try and crack a new genre, which is the open-style GTA genre,” Corre said.
Yes, Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest brands in the industry and everybody respects the brand and we’ll have fun playing the next one too, but I think Watch Dogs’ positioning is also on next-gen, bringing a lot of features – connectivity, interactivity, companion gaming and so on which is bringing some freshness to the genre.
As for the fact that GTA V is around the corner for a September release, Corre felt that this would serve as an appetiser for their hacktivist game when it was released at the end of the year. “When you have a great product in our or any other industry, it also excites the appetite of a lot of consumers in that category. People interested in racing games will buy many racing games if the games are great,” Corre said.
So we think that we can even benefit from the fact that Grand Theft Auto is coming. The spirit will be that this kind of game is great fun and I think Watch Dogs can also bring a lot of the same fans.
Watch Dogs looks promising to me. The visuals are sublime, and the hacking hook could let it stand with other genre big guns such as Sleeping Dogs, Red Dead Redemption and GTA. The game is scheduled right now for a multi-platform release across current and next-gen machines, which could also give it a leg up over GTA V which will only be hitting Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
At the end of the day, no one knows if this game will be a bomb or a bust. But it’s the one thing that this industry and genre sorely needs. And that’s competition.