In an interview with IGN, Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc revealed that Watch Dogs had first been slated to be developed into a driving game, possibly in the Driver franchise, but the developer decided to take the game in another direction.
“Watch Dogs wasn’t started as Watch Dogs. They were working on a driving engine, working on something. We had the Driver license,” Detoc said. “This was years ago. Then we were thinking, ‘No, this is not the way we want to go with a driving game,’ so we cancelled that and restarted.”
Watch Dogs isn’t some bastardized version of Driver, however, as Detoc said the development team realized that the game they had been creating was heading toward a different outcome.
“The decision was made that there was another driving game being made and this one should be an open-world game where the guy comes out of the car and does other things,” Detoc said. “Then the team decides to reshuffle itself entirely. A few other people come in, a new creative director, and then they start a new game.”
The idea that the Driver game became Watch Dogs isn’t exactly accurate, Detoc said, but rather Ubisoft assembled the pieces of the cancelled game to make the new one.
“We could have had another driving engine from another team in another place, and then it would have been used by the Watch Dogs team,” Detoc said.