The WWE games have been made by the Japan-based studio named Yuke’s for almost 20 years, partnering with THQ until the rights to the series were transferred to 2K in 2013. The team behind these games have started feeling burned out from working on the series as they’ve been hitting the same checkmarks every year for the series. Now, Yuke’s has established a brand new team in order to create internal competition for its WWE projects and also reinvigorate its staff that’s working currently on WWE 2K20, according to the studio’s Senior VP and Producer, Hiromi Furuta.
Furuta confessed that Yuke’s has become frustrated with what it has been able to achieve with recent WWE 2K games and suggested that its relationship with its publisher 2K Sports (American studio Visual Concepts also contributes to the WWE 2K series) is partly responsible for this.
“Another unfortunate contributing factor is the lack of competition in the wrestling genre,” she said. Yuke’s historical rival, WWF No Mercy developer AKI Corporation, effectively left the genre following the release of Def Jam: Fight for NY: The Takeover in 2006.
“I think having no competitor isn’t healthy at all. When we had competitors in the wrestling space, we were determined not to lose and that was a great motivator for creating something great. But right now, looking at the market demands, players are expecting something new every time we release a game and we feel like we haven’t achieved what we’ve really wanted to do. For example, in many cases, we’re still using old assets and we’re not able to do some things in the way that we want to.”
Futura also mentioned the studio may “find a way to do things in the way that we want, in terms of our existing relationship with our publisher.” However, for the time being, its current solution is to create its own rival wrestling IP.
“We are trying to launch a new wrestling game. Of course, we will retain the WWE team but we are also aware that our creators are beginning to lose sight of their passion and confidence and becoming focused only on completing assigned tasks. That’s not the direction Yuke’s wants to go in. So, in order to compensate, we’re going to start a new wrestling project.”
Furuta said the unnamed project is at a “very early” stage and that Yuke’s has ideas for new game systems … thinking it will result in “an interesting game.”
Yuke’s is still deciding who the target audience for the game will be, Furuta added, so it’s possible it could go in either a “very realistic” direction or introduce fantasy elements.
“We’re not chasing money or trends,” she said. “We’ll go in whatever direction we feel is most interesting, combined with the passion of whoever leads the project. As long as whoever leads the project has enough passion, then I’m sure we will achieve our goals.
“In terms of our new wrestling project, there are many experienced creators here in this field so I’m confident it’s going to be an awesome game,” Furuta said.
The producer also confirmed Yuke’s will continue its long-running association with the WWE 2K series.
“It is a project dear to our hearts and has even become a part of some of the veteran creators’ lives,” she said. “We have a huge history making these games and still have a good relationship with 2K. Anyhow, WWE would never allow us to stop making these games! However, the new project we have in mind will be the internal competition for WWE.”
This is a very interesting turn of events for the team (or teams now) at Yuke’s as this actually reinvigorates the WWE team. Personally, I hope whatever this new wrestling IP is will take advantage of the new proprietary real-time motion capture technology (ALiS Zero, which has so far not been adapted for WWE 2K for whatever reason). As someone who has played these games since the first Smackdown back on the PS1, I’m looking forward to what they create. Whatever this game turns out to be though, we’ll be sure to cover it here at GamingLyfe!