On a WWE earnings call this week, chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon expressed the company's commitment to videogames, including its pursuit of a project "in the roleplaying game space."
The musclebound machismo of the squared circle seems like it could be a perfect fit for gaming, but the WWE's legacy on that front has been decidedly mixed, with some fondly remembered games from the arcade and 16-bit days overshadowed by the WWE 2K series, whose most recent entries McMahon touched on in the call:
"We were extremely pleased with the relaunch of our premium videogame console franchise, WWE 2K," said McMahon. "After taking a little more than a year off to improve the game engine, we worked hand in glove with our partners at Take-Two Interactive, listened to our customers and fans, and earned back their trust by delivering a game that exceeded their expectations. WWE 2K22 was a commercial and critical success, with the highest Metacritic scores on both Xbox and PlayStation platforms in franchise history, with over 5.6 million hours viewed on Twitch to date."
The previous entry, 2K20, was a notorious flop (opens in new tab), with graphical and gameplay glitches making the rounds on YouTube and an expensive $90 digital deluxe edition (opens in new tab) doing little to help its reputation. 2K22 has fared better, but the "highest Metacritic scores on both Xbox and Playstation platforms in franchise history" fall in the high 70s (opens in new tab), with the PC version down at 72. Decent numbers, but not exactly encouraging for a series-high water mark.
Continuing, McMahon gets to the part of the call we're interested in: "We continue to see strength in the performance of our mobile games with 2K and Scopely, SuperCard and Champions, and recently signed a new deal in the roleplaying game space that will be announced soon."
So, there's a WWE RPG in the works, apparently. The fact that McMahon mentions this project in the same breath as WWE's mobile games may imply that this won't be a full-fat console/PC release, but my mind still boggles at the idea.
Could we see something centered on a full career/story mode, taking a garage gym nobody to the heights of Sports Entertainment superstardom? It could have character building and classes with different archetypes, bruisers and speedsters, with abilities that affect your performance in-and-out of the ring.
Maybe it could have a BioWare-style morality system, with a Heel/Face meter and party approval from the other wrestlers in your stable. The game's potential developer could go in an entirely different direction as well, maybe an alternate, wrestling-themed fantasy world like Brütal Legend's metal-themed dimension.
We probably shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves though, especially given where McMahon takes the gaming portion of the presentation next:
"We also continue to evaluate the metaverse, both walled-garden environments that already exist, as well as decentralized properties," McMahon said. "Look to hear more in the coming months"
Pack it in folks, that's a wrap. It's New Day NFTs from here on out.