There have been some truly great launch games in the past — Mario 64, Halo — but for the most part, when we look back at launch titles for brand new consoles, they rarely pass muster. Why is that?
According to Tony Key, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ubisoft, the issue is two-fold. There's the problem of transitioning to new hardware, and the problem of not knowing the specs of new consoles until relatively late in the game.
"For a game like Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, most of the sales are still going to be on current generation platforms," Key said, in an interview with Games Industry International. "We can't make a version for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One that's so wildly different that we can't market them together. So, for now, developers and designers are focused on making a game that works really well on all of the systems."
Developers at Ubisoft weren't aware of exactly how powerful next-gen consoles would be until relatively recently. This is part of the reason why Watch Dogs was delayed.
"Watch Dogs is designed to be a long-term brand for Ubisoft," Key explained. "We won't launch it until we know it's equaling the vision it can achieve. ... We're playing the long game - and as a company, we know how important it is to get it right."
In that sense it makes sense that almost all truly great launch titles have been internally developed, almost side by side with the hardware itself. As the PS4 and Xbox One prepare for launch in Australia, there are a handful of games worth playing but arguably no genuine system sellers. We might have to wait until 2014 for those to come along.