Watch Dogs: Legions is one of those games where you have to wonder who in their right mind greenlit it. The Watch Dogs franchise started with strong. For the time, it was the most preordered game in Ubisoft’s history and then proceeded to match that momentum on launch with the strongest sales in the company’s history to that date.
By July, the game had shipped over 8 million units and was an unqualified success by any metric. Then Watch Dogs 2 happened. Unlike the originals substantial success, the game went on to sell 80% fewer copies. With many attributing the game’s failure to lackluster design or the blatant injection of cringe-worthy politics.
Fast forward and Watch Dogs: Legions is announced with the intention of doubling down on political commentary by portraying those that wanted Brexit as racist, bigoted, xenophobes hell-bent on hijacking a beautiful multicultural society. They were your primary opponents, and you would recruit from anyone and everyone to stop them.
Then the game got delayed because of a poor performing year. Then Brexit happened, and Ubisoft had to ask itself whether or not it was a good idea to flip the UK government the bird and portray them as racist bigots risking their UK studio’s tax incentives in the process. For a while, I was fully convinced that any rational company would just cut their losses and wash their hands of the project. If they didn’t, by some miracle of stupidity, they’d cleanse any mention of Brexit or depiction of the Brtish as xenophobic bigots from the game. The latter is what happened, and as no surprise, the game flopped hard.
According to Games Industry, the game sold 50% worse than Watch Dogs 2, which sold 80% worse than Watch Dogs. Undeniably that is abysmal, and by all observations, it happened for the same reasons: lackluster gameplay meets cringy political interjection. With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla engaging in some of the same politically driven advertisements, could we see another poor performing year for Ubisoft?