Break the back of yearly wrestling games, make them humble

A plead to stop yearly wrestling game releases in favor of an interactive WWE Network-style model for future WWE games.

Wrestling games may not fall in the same category of sports titles, but they follow the same formula. It seems like every year, it’s the same game with a different roster. On occasion, options get taken out, only to be brought back a year or two later.

WWE 2K16 is a chance to break away from the same old approach

For starters, look at the roster.  This is the biggest roster I’ve seen in a wrestling video game that wasn’t named Fire Pro Wrestling.  Then, you include the 100 create-a-wrestler slots and the DLC featuring some of the biggest names in wrestling's past/present.  In the various packs, you’ll get Roddy Piper, Lita, Dusty Rhodes, Samoa Joe, Arn Anderson, The Bushwhackers, Blake, and Murphy.  With a roster this expansive, it would be a waste to leave this title as just another yearly game.

The past WWE titles, from WWE ’13 to the current 2K16, there has been a fascination with the history.  WWE ’13 had the Attitude Era mode.  WWE 2K14 had the 30 Years of WrestleMania.  2K15 and 2K16 showcase specific personalities.  The former looked at noted rivalries like Cena vs Punk and Shawn Michaels vs Triple H, while the latest entry looked at the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin.  These nostalgia trips should be the springboard with how Yuke’s, 2K, and WWE go from here with regards to supporting 2K16 instead of planning for 2K17.


First, Hulk Hogan should be offered as free DLC as a sign of good will after his business with Gawker is finished.  His absence was one of the most obvious, considering the wrestlers in the game from the same era as him (i.e. Honky Tonk Man, Andre the Giant).  A WWE game without Hulk Hogan is like a Street Fighter game without Ryu.

Now, hear me out on this part: in place of planning for a new retail release, plan out DLC packs of wrestlers and content based on other promotions, which WWE holds the rights for.  Picture this -- DLC packs for AWA, WCCW, WCW, Mid-South, Memphis, ECW...all of the old school promotions that are under the WWE umbrella.  Think of the possibilities.

Imagine a chance to play a showcase of the famed rivalry between the Von Erichs and the Fabulous Freebirds. If you’re old enough, you’re likely to remember the Triple Threat of ECW. Imagine going through the diverse line-ups of that faction over its existence: Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Brian Lee, Chris Candido, and Bam Bam Bigelow.  One of the NWA’s top draws was the rivalry of Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair.  All of these and more are prime material for Showcases.  All this and more can be done with DLC, an aspect Yuke's has executed perfectly in the past.

What I’m ultimately proposing is an interactive WWE Network with WWE 2K16 as the foundation. 

One of the big draws is the opportunity to see the storylines and legends from promotions that have long been closed down.  The Network is a viewable encyclopedia of professional wrestling.

For some consumers, the video service is not an appealing option.  Some don’t like the passive experience of watching videos of the past events.  For a number of people, they want to experience the history in an interactive manner.  Use the video game as a way to connect players who aren’t subscribers.

This could benefit to both Yuke’s and the players.  It would allow Yuke’s to catch their breath -- they don’t have to cut corners or rush to try to get a whole game out in a year.  Instead, they can plan for new assets and focus on small packets of content to offer over a period of time.  This chance allows them to work with new elements they may not have a chance to if working on a new yearly title.

Source: What Culture

The player benefits in a number of ways.  First, they won’t have to shell out 60 bucks for a whole game with a lot of repeated elements, plus another 25 bucks for a season pass, likely also full of duplicated content.  They will have access to 100% new content.

Secondly, in the DLC format, it allows the player to pick and choose content of interest to them.  With a release for a new game, there is a chance the featured mode might not be of interest to some players.  The DLC format allows the player to pay only for the content they want.  This method may even encourage the players to take a risk on content they may not otherwise.  For many, $10 is an acceptable loss -- especially compared to an $85 loss on a whole game and season pass.

Sports titles seem to be dragging their feet when it comes to creating a solid investment for the consumer.  They are clearly complacent with the current model, which can only lead to diminishing returns.  Yuke’s, 2K, and WWE have a chance to innovate.  They have an opportunity to break the walls down.  Don’t make a WWE 2K17.  Make the interactive WWE Network with 2K16 as the first step.

What do you think of this model? Do you prefer the yearly releases, or would you like to see an interactive network? Sound off in the comments!

Published Jan. 6th 2016
View Comments
  • Alex Chin
    Interesting concept. Haven't played a WWE game since smackdown vs. raw 2006 mainly because of its lack of change. My favorite was here comes the pain.
  • Mackenzie Lambert_5420
    In 100% agreement with you on Here Comes the Pain.

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