Part of our focus here at Under The Code, is to allow the sports gaming community to have their own voice by contributing content to our readers. We call these pieces ‘Community Insights’, and over the course of the year you can expect to see various voices in the sports gaming community lend their voice to our pages and share their opinions on the industry.
Today we present our first Community Insight – a look at 2K Sports’ newly acquired WWE series – courtesy of Scott Burress. Scott is known to many as ExtremeGamer and he is a two-time community event attendee for the WWE series, and has worked on the title for the past two years. ExtremeGamer looks back at this year’s critically-acclaimed WWE 13, and what he hopes takes place after the transition to 2K Sports.
With the closure of THQ, the future of the WWE franchise looked bleak. Obviously there would be an eventual successor to WWE ’13, but the big question was when and what would it be. Rumors went all over the place that EA, Activison, Take Two, and others were all in serious talks to acquire the WWE franchise and in the end Take Two was the winner, who then placed the game under the 2K Sports banner. In an even more surprising announcement, we learned that WWE ’14 would be releasing this fall.
So what does this all mean for WWE ’14? Where can 2K improve upon what THQ had in place? Most importantly, how can this series grow?
We won’t see a vast improvement with ’14, there just isn’t enough time. Hopefully 2K has a secondary team already preparing a WWE ’15 for next gen consoles, and changing/improving some of the short comings in the series. What we’ll get this fall will be a similar title to ’13 with improvements, roster changes and a new story-line.
Some of the short comings this franchise has had should be improved upon immediately by the jump to 2K Sports though; the biggest will be the 2K Share functionality that should be built into the Community Creations portion of WWE’s online engine. As anyone who’s played WWE ’12 or ’13 can attest to, the servers were simply not good. Trying to find a Community Creations wrestler was met with disappointment more than a few times, as you would see the dreaded “WWE ’13 Servers are not currently available”. This began a waiting game to figure out when the server would have its lowest volume so you could download your favorite non-roster or fantasy wrestlers for your universe.
Since we’re looking at a yearly “sports” game, with a “sport” that doesn’t have seasons, 2K has to capitalize on a few things:
For one, a new release point is needed. WWE should be releasing during their Super Bowl – WrestleMania. Release the game the week before hand. Use all of the hype surrounding the event to further advertise and sell the title. People who aren’t even wrestling fans discuss WWE during this time frame due to WWE branching out into their realms of media like using actors, boxers, and the likes of Donald Trump. Release it in this window instead of the already crowded November release month to capitalize on sales.
Two, keep a free flowing roster that can be added to over time ala Rock Band. If you have DLC in 2013, of say some classic wrestlers, have those same guys able to be ported into next year’s game for a fee. I know this is something all sports games would love to see, but in this case for the WWE, we’re talking about characters that are mostly owned by the WWE themselves or the individual wrestler owns the rights. Do a multi-year deal for these guys and allow the rosters to grow continuously. One of the biggest complaints gamers have is the fact that the roster is built upon guys who have been in it before. This allows the roster to grow year in and out.
New character models are needed; this needs to happen with the next gen consoles. Let’s face it; the current models are old and outdated. Everything is molded onto the model so changes can be made to them other than color pallet swaps. This is why we have 3 Undertakers, 3 Triple H’s, etc. in WWE ’13. While that necessarily doesn’t bother me, as it goes to the same tone of having the 2013 Chicago Bulls, the 1998 Chicago Bulls, 1997 Chicago Bulls, etc. in NBA 2K13, but I still would like a way to fully edit the wrestlers more than we can now. 2K has had a decent creator suite in their games. Nothing to write home about, but keep what WWE Games has already built in place, and build upon that. It can be done, and it needs to be done.
Commentary and Presentation: Why do a lot of people watch WWE programming? Because of the presentation as well as the larger-than-life stars. What does 2K do better than anyone else? Commentary. As bad as a game like MLB 2K13 is, the commentary in it is incredible. I don’t know how 2K creates their commentary tracks, as even back to the Dan Stevens era with NFL 2K – they have completely dominated this feature in the sports market. I want their similar track record to continue with the WWE franchise. THQ really nailed some of the presentation values with WWE ’13 by having Twitter hashtags during events, fantastic camera angles, and overall graphics…but this can still be improved and needs to be. We need it to almost be a live, free-flowing system like in NBA 2K. When shoes changes, arenas change, etc., 2K is on that to update. I want to see is that when John Cena wears a new shirt on Monday Night Raw, that 2K Sports has that shirt in the game a week later. This is where this franchise needs to go.
There are minor changes I’d like to see implemented into the Universe mode, which could obviously be put into the ’14 iteration. For example, removing restrictions on PPV’s (allowing more than 2 shows to be involved), and allowing one championship over more than just 2 shows. If I have 5 shows, allow one champion if I want it to be. Give us more story-lines, and allow me to be a Booker and create story-lines as well.
Even bigger than those, for online universe mode, have a head Booker and up to 10 friends join your universe. It’s been talked about; this is what the future of WWE games could be. If it’s modeled after NCAA Football’s experience where you have a commissioner (head Booker), and then people can join using their wrestlers. A schedule is set up, gamers get their matches in versus either another human or the AI and story-lines unfold online for the world to see. Have it branched to the web so the Booker can create story-lines there as well, to have a completely fleshed-out experience. It would be one that could also attract non-wrestling fans into the mode as well.
I’d also love to see 2K use their website for Community Creations. This was brilliant in the Fight Night and EA MMA series’, so I would love to see 2K get on board with it. Let me browse the website for the community creations and select guys for my queue right from my browser. I could then fire up WWE ‘14/15 and my guys download automatically. It’s a little detail but it would go a long way to help the community grow.
There was nothing wrong with WWE ’13 in an overall game experience. I still play it today, and have almost every day since it launched. It is the best wrestling game released to date in my opinion. I don’t hold the same rose-tinted glasses towards the No Mercy game as some of you may, but as in any game franchise, there’s always that one game that everyone remembers being great or better that it really was. So let’s face it, 2K has a great base to build upon here with WWE ’13 going into ’14 and hopefully the revamps I mentioned above into ’15. The future is bright for fans of the WWE franchise with the 2K Sports partnership. Now let’s see where they take us.
We’d like to thank ExtremeGamer for his insight into the WWE franchise. ExtremeGamer can be followed on Twitter at: @ExtremeGamer, and feel free to let us know what you think of the WWE franchise in the comments below or in our forums!