It’s been a very long time since wrestling games were best sellers or took center stage in the gaming universe. While the WWE 2K series has shown some promise over the last year or so, that is close to the only option out there. If you asked 10 people if they have played Fire Pro Wrestling, I suspect eight or nine would probably ask you what it is. And this is no fault of Spike Chunsoft. The game can be a great alternative for many fans, however, it just doesn’t have the marketing power that WWE 2K has. Beyond that, while the game could be considered another viable option, a lot of people don’t like the style or have the patience to learn the somewhat complicated controls. This is understandable.
So what now? WWE 2K20 releases next month, and while it looks good from what we’ve seen so far, there are a lot of disenfranchised fans who have given up on the series. It would take a lot to bring those people back. Maybe the developers can do it this year, but I think the general feeling is that we might only be seeing minor improvements this year, mostly due to the fact that next year’s game might release on the new hardware from PlayStation and Xbox.
I think it’s pretty safe to say at this point we won’t be seeing another TNA/Impact wrestling game. Beyond that wrestling organization, we probably won’t be getting a New Japan Pro Wrestling game, so this leaves fans wanting either an AEW game or a generic game with full customization.
Is an AEW Game Inevitable?
We already know for sure that Yuke’s is making a wrestling game. We just don’t know if it will be licensed or generic. However, we might have been given a hint on that by AEW wrestler Kenny Omega. AEW’s Young Bucks teased a game about a month or so ago, but just recently, Kenny Omega stated that an AEW video game “is the ultimate goal.” This is good news, especially considering Omega is a huge video game fan, and admits growing up playing the old Nintendo 64 wrestling games. I think at this point, we will see an AEW video game sooner than later, especially when you have AEW wrestlers talking about a game so often. With a number of them being huge video game fans, it seems like a reality that they will get something done.
But who develops it? It’s pretty safe to say it won’t be Syn Sophia, formally known as AKI Corp. They haven’t made a wrestling game since WWF No Mercy in 2000, and haven’t made any games at all since 2009. I would also assume the people who worked on the old N64 wrestling games are long gone. I guess anything is possible, but it seems improbable at this time.
The Yuke’s Mystery
This leads us back to Yuke’s. As previously said, Yuke’s is making a new wrestling game. It would be very plausible for them to acquire the AEW license. In fact, it could be almost too obvious. If the guys at AEW are really wanting the get into the video game space, it just makes perfect sense. A game already in development from a reputable company, then why not?
If AEW and Yuke’s don’t end up working together, there could be a couple of other options. EA could be one. EA’s last official wrestling video game was WCW Backstage Assault in 2000. To call a spade a spade, it was terrible. However, in 1999 EA released WCW Mayhem. The game didn’t set the world on fire, but it created a solid foundation in what was supposed to be a series of games before WCW imploded. Now I’m sure they couldn’t use that engine today, but they could at least build something competent to get it off the ground.
EA’s Miss is 2K’s Gain
When the WWE license was up in the air after THQ bowed out, EA was in the running. The rumor was they would have used the EA Sports MMA engine to make it. That was a solid game, and with the right tweaks it could have worked. I’m sure they still have that game engine sitting around somewhere. Either way, 2K was able to secure the rights to make WWE games and here we are on the cusp of WWE 2K20 being released.
One thing you can say about 2K when it comes to WWE is that it isn’t plagued with microtransactions. Yes, you do have to purchase some things separately to get all the wrestlers, or the accelerator. But the good news is that for that $30 extra, you get everything. Yes, there are loot boxes in MyPlayer, but it is nowhere near the ridiculousness of NBA 2K.
Most people who don’t have a bone to pick with the series will tell you that WWE 2K19 was a step forward. Let’s hope we get that again with this year’s game. The gameplay itself was much better last year and felt more like a wrestling match than a fighting game. That fighting game element is still there, of course, but as the series progresses — and with Visual Concepts on board — we may see the direction of the game move even closer to the simulation aspect of wrestling.
There’s Still an Opening in the Market
I know not everyone likes that hardcore simulation style of wrestling in a video game. This is where any company could sweep in and make an arcade-style game. It doesn’t have to be over the top with wrestlers doing Mortal Kombat finishers, but I think there is a niche out there for this type of game. If 2K were smart, they would release an arcade-style WWE video game to complement WWE 2K itself (and would not just release it on mobile either). I don’t imagine this will happen soon, but just like in wrestling, never say never.
So tell us what direction you want to see wrestling video games go. Are you happy with the progression WWE 2K is making? Do you like the simulation style? Do you think Yuke’s is behind the inevitable AEW game? Would you just be happy with an arcade-style WWE game? Sound off in the comments and let us know.