Credit: WWE 2K20
To put it plainly, WWE 2K20 was a failure.
Take-Two Interactive’s CEO Strauss Zelnick said as much in the organization’s recent quarterly earnings call. Zelnick acknowledged WWE 2K20’s struggles in sales and quality, but his statement also gave WWE gaming fans some hope for the future.
“While we’re disappointed that WWE 2K20 did not meet our expectations, both in terms of sales and quality, 2K is actively working with Visual Concepts to ensure that these issues are addressed in the future, and they’ll have more to share on their plans soon,” says Zelnick. “The WWE brand continues to expand worldwide, and there remains a substantial long-term opportunity to grow our WWE 2K series by improving the quality of the game.”
When WWE 2K20 released, it had a ton of holes and bugs that made it almost unplayable for the first month or so after it hit retailers. Since it’s release, there have been several patches, DLC packs and overall improvements.
Without question, the game is better now than it was, and it’s where most realistic fans expected it to be when it launched.
Still, to experience such a rocky launch in the first year since Visual Concepts and 2K separated from Yukes is embarrassing for the developers and WWE. The two proud organizations aren’t likely to accept such high-profile failure without a significant attempt to recover.
Before the disastrous WWE 2K20 release, it appeared the franchise was coasting with a decent, but less-than spectacular product. Visually it was solid and the creation suite remained the best in the sports gaming genre. However, the game engine was in need of an overhaul. Fans have been waiting on something different in that vein for years, and with sales dipping to one of its lowest points in series history after the first week of the release of WWE 2K19, it was clear a change was needed.
That change was likely planned for WWE 2K20, but some unconfirmed stumbling blocks likely prevented the development team from delivering the kind of experience it planned for this year’s game.
While the first week sales numbers haven’t been posted for WWE 2K20, Venture Beat confirms the game ranked seventh in total game sales during its release month of October 2019. That’s not ideal.
Mix that in with the poor press and viral glitch videos, and this might be as close as the publisher and wrestling promotion want to get to rock bottom.
Taking a close look at Zelnick’s statements and factoring in what I’ve learned from observing and covering Take Two products for more than 10 years, I’d expect some pretty radical announcements relating to WWE and 2K before the end of the year.
Fans of wrestling video games have been clamoring for a title that has more simplistic controls, and that opens up a can of fantasy arcade fun. With 2K and WWE aiming to please their fanbase as much as ever with its next installment, I’d say there is a good chance the series produces the closest thing to that concept as possible in the next release.
I also wouldn’t be shocked to see a different release date, perhaps something closer to WrestleMania where the game can take advantage of the biggest show of the year. An April release would also allow WWE 2K to avoid competition with some of the largest releases across multiple gaming genres later in the year, and just ahead of the holidays.
Lastly, don’t be shocked to see 2K announce a second or even third product with WWE wrestlers or themes. A game like WWE Immortals, or a similar concept, would almost certainly draw some interests, and there are mounds of other kinds of titles that could be augmented by the use of the WWE license.
Based on what I’m hearing from multiple sources throughout the industry, something big is on the way from WWE 2K, and none of the aforementioned concepts is out of the realm of possibility.
I’ll be monitoring the developments over the next few months, and it is possible there could be something major to announce before or around WrestleMania 36 on April 5.