It’s no secret why a successful video game franchise is adapted into a live-action film, but in the case of Watch Dogs, the deal can apparently get done before the game even hits store shelves. Today, Ubisoft – publisher of game franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon announced a deal with Sony Pictures and New Regency to bring Watch Dogs to the big screen.
No production or projected release dates were given during the announcement at Gamescom 2013, beyond stating that Ubisoft Motion Pictures would be working with the two partners in adapting what is quickly becoming Ubisoft’s most anticipated new franchise.
Ubisoft has taken it upon themselves to blaze a trail in the tumultuous field of bringing video games to film audiences, and are already forming bonds in the industry. The publisher has already partnered with Sony to bring the Michael Fassbender-starring Assassin’s Creed to theaters, and are still working with New Regency to adapt Splinter Cell with Tom Hardy already on board.
But while each of those series required multiple sequels to prove their staying power, Watch Dogs has already generated enough buzz despite its release still being months away. Set in near-future Chicago, the game follows the exploits of hacker Aiden Pearce: a man capable of breaking into every camera, bank account, traffic light, and digital device connected to a city-wide information network.
It’s that all-too-relevant exploration of privacy and technology that president of Production for Columbia Pictures Hannah Minghella claims attracted the studio, and has the makings of a blockbuster:
“The themes and open gameplay of ‘Watch Dogs’ lends itself perfectly to the big screen. The game has intense action and adventure, but the story focuses on information and the control of information, which we think will lead to an exciting thriller. It has tremendous potential as a motion picture and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Ubisoft’s internal creative team on the development of the project.”
We’re less than shocked to see a deal announced so soon; Ubisoft had made it clear they were looking to make Watch Dogs a cross-media franchise, and a quick look at the company’s upcoming releases reveals that nearly every game is a movie pitch as well (expect to see a deal announced for The Division by 2015).
Take a look at the E3 2013 trailer for Watch Dogs, driving home the point that in today’s world, nobody is anonymous:
But before movie fans declare in one voice that ‘Ubisoft has done it again,’ we’d offer a few words of caution. As our brethren over at Game Rant will attest, the majority of excitement and enthusiasm surrounding Watch Dogs doesn’t have as much to do with the plot (with a style and action sequences already attempted on film) as it does the actual gameplay – something that can’t be adapted to film.
The opportunity to tell an interesting story, or introduce some new blends of gadgetry and real-world implications is certainly present; but without an eye-catching theme or element like Assassin’s Creed, Sony and Ubisoft will have an interesting challenge on their hands. Especially if Watch Dogs receives even a slightly disappointing reception among mass audiences.
What do you think about the movie deal? Does this news hint that Hollywood studios may be changing their minds when it comes to video game adaptations; that a good pitch is a good pitch, not one that must be proven if used for a game first? Sound off in the comments.
Watch Dogs releases this November. No release date for the film has yet been given. For more information, check out Game Rant’s Watch Dogs preview.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.