Ubisoft to unleash 'Watch Dogs' video game in May

Mar 06, 2014
The Ubisoft display at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, on June 12, 2013

Ubisoft said Thursday that it will unleash hacker-themed video game "Watch Dogs" on May 27 in what could turn a disappointing launch delay into a smart marketing move.

Shares in the publicly traded French company took a hit when it announced that "Watch Dogs" would not be released as originally planned in November of last year.

However, hitting the market at that time would have had pitted it against a hotly anticipated new installment in the beloved "Call of Duty" franchise for players' time and money.

In contrast, a May debut for "Watch Dogs" could take place when owners of new-generation PlayStation 4 or Xbox One consoles released late last year are hungry for fresh games to play.

Versions of "Watch Dogs" will be available for current and previous generation PlayStation or Xbox consoles as well as for play on personal computers powered by Windows software.

The price was not disclosed, but major new titles are typically priced at around $60 upon release in the United States.

A version of the game tailored for Nintendo's Wii U console is to be released at an unspecified later date.

Despite the massive impact to its short-term financial outlook, Ubisoft co-founder and chief executive Yves Guillemot said when the delay was announced that he is convinced in the long term the decision will prove right "both in terms of satisfaction for our fans and in terms of value creation for our shareholders."

In "Watch Dogs," the player-controlled anti-hero can access everything from the cellphone conversations and medical records of passers-by to computers which control traffic lights, to advance through the game.

Set in Chicago, the game centers on Aiden Pearce, who uses his smartphone to access the city's Central Operating System, which controls everything from power grids and traffic management technology to bank accounts and phone networks.

That kind of hacking evokes the stunning recent revelations about electronic surveillance by US authorities, revealed by ex-government contractor Edward Snowden.

In "Watch Dogs," Pearce starts off seeking revenge for a loved one, but as he finds out more about the city, through hacking into its systems and inhabitants, he becomes a "vigilante," according to Ubisoft.

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