- Watch Dogs was initially supposed to be a reboot of Driver;
- However, the game contained elements that didn't fit the said series;
- The decision to create a new IP was influenced by the desire to have its own GTA.
Watch Dogs is currently one of Ubisoft's most high-profile about series. Interestingly enough, it came very close to not being made at all. In an interview with VG247 an anonymous studio employee revealed that initially the game was to be another installment of the Driver series. Plans for Watch Dogs changed only in the course of work.
At the time, the last part of Driver was the installment subtitled San Francisco. The game from Ubisoft Reflections met with a warm reception, and the company was determined to strike the iron while its hot. Ubisoft Montreal branch was involved in work on the next part. It would be their first encounter with the series. The game was also to be a reboot.
As the informant revealed during the interview, the ambitions of the creators were very high. So much so, that they no longer fit into the game to be part of the Driver series.
“It [the game - ed. note] was always modern day, it had on foot, parkour, combat as well as driving, all set in a large open-world city, and the main hook was always modern technology and hacking. After a while trying to make this concept fit into the Driver franchise, the decision was made to turn it into its own, new IP.”
This decision was supposedly taken at a very early stage of work. Individual mechanics were just being introduced into the game, and such elements as cars did not even have textures. Even so, the new game was already far removed from what a new Driver should be.
Ultimately, it was Ubisoft Montreal that came up with the initiative to change the project into a completely new series. The final argument was to refer to another popular series. According to a studio employee, Ubisoft's CEO Yves Guillemot was convinced when he was offered the chance to replace the poorly selling Driver with the company's very own GTA. Looking at the popularity and sales figures of the subsequent installments of Watch Dogs, the decision that has been made seems justified.