The Deeper Interactivity of Watch Dogs July 5, 2012Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
Like a lot of the gaming press, I was tremendously impressed by UbiSoft’s reveal of Watch Dogs at this year’s E3. The game looked fantastic. It had a gritty cyberpunk style and had gameplay that I had wanted to see in a video game for the past fifteen years.
Upon my initial viewing of the game back at E3 I noticed something during the early segment of the game. At the time I dismissed it as part of the game’s style, but recently upon a rewatch of the gameplay demo I decided to check further into it.
There’s a new barcode technology, called a Tag, which have become more popular with the advent of camera equipped smartphones. Nowadays, an advertisement or billboard will have a small image in it that you can “tag” with your phone to redirect you to a website where you can get more information about the product. This tagging feature has also been used in video games. Three Microsoft Tags were hidden in the game Alan Wake, which directed players to secret phone messages and awarded them a free code for a special exclusive 360 theme.
In the Watch Dogs demo, you can clearly see a character walking around with a box on their head. The box was no mere fashion statement (or Minecraft cosplay), there was a tag on it, and since first seeing the demo, I was curious if the tag actually worked. I froze the video on the clearest image I could get of one of the sides of the tag box and it turns out that it is indeed a valid tag.
The tag redirects to dotconnexion, which is the website of the gala that the player snuck into during the Watch Dogs demo. In it there is a tribute page to the event organizer (who the player killed at the end of the demo), as well as two interviews with artists the event featured. In the interviews the artists talk about themselves and explain their exhibits and how they work. In fact if you look closely you can find the interactive art exhibits they’re discussing on the site in the game’s demo video, and they work in the game exactly as described! This kind of attention to detail is fantastic!
The site is formatted for both PC and mobile users.
I love when an alternate realty expands around a product. I’m sure well all remember the extremely successful I Love Bees campaign from the Halo 2 days, which brought a ton of players in just to solve it and resolve the campaign’s mystery, some of which had no interest in Halo at all. More recently this has been done with movies like Tron: Legacy and The Dark Knight. However, unlike I Love Bees, it looks like this site was designed during Watch Dog’s development, so there’s a chance that information gotten from the website, or another one like it, could play a role in the final version of the game.
It’s no secret that UbiSoft intends to bring a new level of interactivity to Watch Dogs that we haven’t seen before in other games. At E3 they also announced a companion app will be released to tablets (and hopefully other mobile devices) which will allow players to track their game progress, give them increased functionality in the game, and track the progress of their friends regardless of the platform that they are playing on.
How many more websites could UbiSoft be planning to spring up by the time that Watch Dogs releases? Will they provide new, exclusive information about the game that the media hasn’t gotten yet? Keep your eyes peeled.
Anyone else remember playing Majestic?