The relationship between WWE and Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of 2K Sports, may be coming to an end. And it could lead to WWE moving its games to a competing publisher for the very first time.
Multiple sources said WWE had preliminary discussions with Electronic Arts (EA) about transferring the WWE Games line to one of the top game publishers in the world.
Considered a “landmark” release for the series, the launch of WWE 2K22 and the following weeks and months are significant. The last contract between the two parties was signed in 2016. Although no official details have been made public. , sources say it was a six-year deal with options to extend it. If the game is well received by the public and sales match expectations, an expansion may not be long in coming. Should this be considered a failure, a move to EA could become a bigger possibility than ever.
While talks between WWE and EA have been on and off for years, including before the 2016 expansion, the two recently began talking about a deal as early as early 2021. Sources say talks have begun after the WWE disappointment. 2K20 and the lackluster reception of WWE 2K Battlegrounds.
“WWE has shown a lot of frustration with the reception and lack of success of recent games,” a source said. “The gaming market is a major selling point for them, and they think they’ve fallen behind the competition.”
This competition are the other sports games available. Although wrestling has a passionate and dedicated fanbase, WWE believes players are making decisions to buy other sports titles instead of their own. With rising prices for games on the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series XS, WWE internally believes games need to provide more reason than ever to justify the costs. Many felt that the WWE 2K games didn’t do that.
Those at WWE feel that the company’s games have unfairly, in their minds, received fewer resources than 2K Sports’ other major title, NBA 2K. Although NBA 2K’s sales and revenue are much higher than WWE 2K’s, the company believes this is more due to reduced development resources than general interest in the game.
Ever since WWE 2K15, the first game to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, the budget allocated to game development has been shrinking year after year. Whether it’s animation, art, or even quality testing, no area has been spared during the show’s cuts. When asked why this kept happening, respondents had no specific reasoning, although some suggested that the increase in sports titles being developed in the company was not helping matters.
While WWE 2K22 is the “make or break” title many have been pointing to, things haven’t gone well in the lead up to the game’s release. The team had promised more behind-the-scenes looks at the game than before as well. that more information for fans, but that seemed to fade away as the months got closer.
Instead, members of the WWE 2K22 team have released conflicting information regarding things like multiplayer in MyGM. On top of that, it took until just before the game’s launch for fans to know the full launch slate, details about the MyRise career mode, new MyFaction mode, Showcase, and the Creation Suite. Bigger talking points like Universe Mode and online multiplayer options were also not mentioned by the WWE 2K22 team.
Even content creators – especially those who have partnered with the WWE Games team to help promote the game in exchange for access – have felt the pinch of cuts with the build-up to WWE 2K22. From the lack of events, late access to the game, higher restrictions on what they can show, and even a basic custom MyFaction map as a freebie, things haven’t gone as many would have expected. This is especially the case with major NDA creators in the 2K Next Makers program who must sign on. It’s been so poor from a communication standpoint that some current members of the program have privately expressed the idea of leaving the program once commitments for this year’s game are complete.
In what is probably nothing more than a coincidence, it has been noticed that members of EA and WWE management have showered themselves with praise on the LinkedIn platform. Two such examples were WWE CBO Stephanie McMahon complimenting EA for the inclusion of women in EA Sports NHL while EA COO Laura Miele praised WWE for featuring women in the company on a panel. display in Saudi Arabia.
Again, that’s probably pure coincidence, a source said. However, with a potential relationship, there could always be an underlying meaning behind everything that no one knows yet.
A complicated history between WWE and 2K
In 2013, the WWE 2K series was born out of the bankruptcy and closure of former publisher THQ. Since then, the series has seen eight mainline WWE 2K entries, one spin-off (WWE 2K Battlegrounds), and one popular mobile entry (WWE Supercard). And while some have been far more well received than others, the WWE 2K franchise has continued for nearly a decade.
While the game was published by 2K Sports at the start of the partnership, longtime WWE Games developer Yuke’s remained an important part of development alongside 2K developer Visual Concepts (VC). In fact, it wasn’t until the development of WWE 2K20 in 2019 that Yuke left the series after 20 years.
Reports at the time insisted that conflicts between Yuke’s and VC led to the split. However, Yuke has repeatedly asserted that there is no hard feelings between the companies, rather it is a good time to move on. That said, the same hasn’t been reciprocated on the other side, with Visual Concepts creative director Lynell Jinks saying in an interview with DualShockers that the split was forced by 2K.
“When you have an outside person coming in and telling you how they want the game to be, and when you’ve been working on the game for so long, it’s going to create friction. It’s going to create back and forth. It’s hard to to be a really cohesive unit that way, especially that first year where we go in and ask them to come out of their comfort zone. We realized from that point on, it was like, ‘Okay, we know what we have, we know what their strengths are, and we have to play to their strengths’ and add features here and there to try to get us there overtime.”
With every relationship in the game, however, nothing is over until it’s official. There is always the possibility that the series will continue with a new agreement. Also, not everyone expects a rift between Take-Two and WWE.
“The VC development team is confident that things will continue as normal,” said a source familiar with the game. “If anything changes, no one has even been notified.
“2K is confident this will continue,” they said.
Another person on the WWE 2K22 team thinks the team has put so much effort into improving the game that it will convince those making the decisions to move forward together.
“It’s basically a whole new game in a lot of areas,” the person said. “There is a new foundation established to make this a series that everyone wants. You just have to understand that it won’t happen in a year.
Should a move to EA occur for the WWE series, a few have suggested the game would be developed at EA Vancouver, the same studio in charge of the EA Sports UFC series. It was also said that it would be another “years-long wait” for the first game to come out.
“One of the biggest questions, of many, is whether WWE wants to wait years for a new game to be developed or stick with what has already been built.”
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