Coming fresh off the heels of what most wrestling fans would consider a huge success with AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view last Saturday night and a weekly spot on TNT on the horizon, could the next big thing for AEW include a video game?
We all know it takes time for these things, and there is probably not a game in development. However, one of the next logical steps for this upstart company would be to get into as many mediums as possible. And a video game could mean big money. And speaking of big money, the company is owned by Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. With seemingly all the money in the world at their disposal, it should not be too hard to put in the money to get it done on their part.
I think the game would be most viable by releasing in a year or two when the company has broken into the mainstream a bit more. This should happen over the next year with their weekly TV show on TNT. Being on one of the biggest cable networks in the United States will expose the company to millions of people who never even knew there were any big wrestling companies outside of WWE. Hardcore wrestling fans have known about AEW for a while now, but you need that mainstream audience for a video game to be viable.
The Demand for An Alternative
It’s no secret that the WWE 2K series has caused some wrestling video game fatigue. Many people are now checking out Fire Pro Wrestling World, and our own Brandon Kosal tells you why you should too right here. We know that Yukes, one of the developers of the WWE 2K, series is making its own wrestling game, but I think it’s safe to assume it won’t be an AEW game considering there is the strong link with WWE there. So who does that leave? What publishers and developers would be best suited to make this AEW game?
As was just mentioned, The developers behind Fire Pro Wrestling World, ZEX Corporation and Spike Chunsoft, could be viable candidates. Fire Pro’s excellent creation suite and great sharing system could help make it work. However, many people just can’t get into the style of the game. Its gameplay mechanics and stylized graphics are not for everyone (but you should still give it a try).
So if not the Fire Pro developers, then who?
I think many people, at least people as old as I am, would immediately think back to the fantastic WCW and WWE games on the Nintendo 64 developed by AKI Corporation. Unfortunately, this company no longer exists as it did when it made these fantastic games. The company re-branded itself to Syn Sophia and no longer makes wrestling games.
Could EA be interested? I think EA would be interested if the company thought the game could make big money. But EA hasn’t published a wrestling game since the critically panned WCW Backstage Assault developed by the now defunct Kodiak Interactive. This, however, doesn’t mean EA couldn’t make a good wrestling game today — be it through their in-house developers or partnering with someone from the outside.
There are plenty of other developers out there, whether they are under a large company’s umbrella or independent. I have no doubt AEW could find a studio to make their games. But they need to knock it out of the park. Not only do they need to hold their own against WWE in the real world, there would be no point in putting out a sub-par video game. So the AEW brass need to be careful about who they choose to make the game. They would need to be able to steal away fans of the WWE 2K series. This may not seem hard considering how polarizing the WWE 2K series is, but like any other sports games, there is a large group of people who will buy that game every year out of habit.
Another very important thing an AEW video game would need is star power. While right now AEW has its fair share of stars, the most recognizable to casual fans would probably be Chris Jericho. Others like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes might not be enough to sell the game to casual fans. What also might help is that we did see the debut of former WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose on Saturday night. He is now known as Jon Moxley once again, a name he used prior to joining WWE. But still, I think there needs to be a couple more. And by the time the game would go into marketing mode, I’m sure there will be more recognizable names to promote, especially with such a great TV deal.
Just like what wrestling fans want to see in real life, competition is good. It breeds innovation. This is something we hardly see in the sports video game space now. Most sports video games today don’t have a direct competitor. And the ones that do are pretty far apart in terms of at least sales, and arguably, quality. As a huge and life-long wrestling fan I am excited at the prospect of an AEW video game. While I still feel the WWE 2K series is good — especially WWE 2K19, which I thought took a step forward this year — I wan’t options.
But not just options, I already want to play as my favorite AEW wrestlers, especially after Saturday’s pay-per-view event. It was full of great wrestling, stories and surprises. This is why we need an AEW wrestling game. I think AEW might have something special on their hands. I think they are entering the wrestling space at the perfect time, not only as an alternative to WWE, but a direct competitor that has a chance to make a huge dent in the armor of WWE.
So, tell us, who you would like to see develop an AEW wrestling game to challenge the WWE 2K series?