It seems like an annual tradition now for WWE wrestling fans that in the later months of every year right before Christmas that the WWE releases the newest edition of it’s WWE 2k video game franchise. Commercials will have hyped it up for months and the day it is released people will flock to stores or check out when the game will be available on Steam online.
But the thing is that no matter what exclusive content or new addition to the roster they advertised or whoever gets plastered on the cover of the game, it still ends up being pretty much the same game they have released for years with some minor tweaks added to try to get people to pay 60 dollars or more for the same thing again and again.
It may surprise some gamers to know the series has its roots back in the old Smackdown games for the PlayStation. That game was released in the year 2000. Sure the games have changed names from Smackdown to Smackdown v/s RAW (during the original brand split) until the WWE 2K games in 2013 when original game publisher THQ went belly up and the license was sold off to 2K Sports. A lot has changed for the WWE in that time. The name change from WWF to WWE, their biggest competition in WCW going out of business in 2001, the WWE Network, and so on. The rosters have entirely changed as well. Most of WWE wrestlers in that original games are considered “legends” now and are used as “extras” to include in the games and an incentive to buy the newest game.
The games themselves, not nearly as much. The single player “story” mode in every game they released is a version of “the road to Wrestlemania” trying to take a character from the lowest part of the roster and taking them to the main event the biggest card of the year. Royal Rumble matches, Money in the Bank briefcases, and numerous matches of no consequence, wash, rinse, repeat. Beyond that, the stories just feel like rejected WWE storylines from their TV shows whether they make any sense or not. The rosters are usually the same current WWE men and women carried over from past games mixed in with some of the newer arrivals and more “legends” The same lines of the commentary are also carried over with newer stuff recorded to make it sound fresh, often times with the same mistakes included in as well. I can personally attest to hearing references to wrestlers who not only aren’t in the game, but are long gone from the company itself pop up out of nowhere, and occasionally the flubbed lines are also left in as well.
So what could the WWE or the video game developers do? There have been a few attempts over the years to do games that didn’t fit that mold. Not all of them were great successes. There was the WWE All Stars game that makes everything look like a roided up cartoon, Crush Hour which was their attempt at a racing game, and many of us remember Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, or their attempt to do a Mortal Kombat style fighting game and the sequel In Your House.
But even in its current format, there are many other ideas that could be used, and not have to go to goofball extremes like car racing or tombstone power-ups. A WWE game more focused on the NXT Brand, a WWE Network series of games based off the WWE’s online service that features things like the 90’s Attitude Era, the 80’s Rock N Wrestling era, or even old competitors WCW or the AWA. All of which were tacked onto WWE 2k games over the years. Heck, with all the stories the WWE likes to highlight about how badly WCW was run over the years, make a comedic WCW game where nothing makes sense and nothing is run right and you are a new character trying not to go insane. How about a game with the characters from the WWE’s Southpaw Regional Wrestling spoof of old territorial wrestling? That would be a hoot. How about a game more focused on creating your own wrestlers? That is my personal favorite part of ANY wrestling game and a large part in my decision-making process in buying a game. Heck have a “Vince McMahon” game were you ARE the decision making process and instead of winning or losing, you are worried about running the company and putting on a successful show.
There are plenty of new and different ideas out there that would give the gamer fans something different. Instead of falling into a rut, do something different and give people something new. Probably advice the WWE itself could use. But that is for another discussion.