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Publisher 2K has recruited former Double Helix studio head Patrick Gilmore to lead the development of future WWE games as it enacts a “renewed focus” on quality.
On Monday 2K confirmed earlier reports that plans for WWE 2K21 have been cancelled, following a disappointing 2020 game.
The publisher will instead release a new arcade spin-off, WWE 2K Battlegrounds, this fall/autumn, developed by Saber Interactive (NBA 2K Playgrounds).
In a statement published on Monday, 2K said “we hear [fans] and we know you want more from the franchise” and promised it was enacting “a renewed focus on quality and fun.”
It said: “As part of that commitment, we are extending the production timeline and will not be releasing a WWE 2K simulation game in 2020 (T2 fiscal year 2021).” Take-Two’s fiscal year 2021 runs from April 2020 to March 2021.
“We want to ensure the development team at Visual Concepts can create a great game that will entertain grizzled WWE 2K veterans, as well as newcomers who want to climb through the ropes and step into the ring for the very first time.”
Gilmore has been recruited as the franchise’s executive producer, 2K confirmed. Gilmore was previously studio head at Double Helix (Killer Instinct) and exec producer at EA for Medal of honor.
The most recent WWE game instalment, WWE 2K20, was a disappointing full debut for developer Visual Concepts, resulting in one of the lowest Metacritic scores in 2K’s history.
The release issues were significant enough to generate mainstream coverage from the BBC. Extreme examples included fighters levitating, objects disappearing and faces falling off. In a further blow to the game’s developer, a clock bug left WWE 2K20 unplayable on the first day of 2020.
Take-Two confirmed earlier this year that Visual Concepts would continue to work on the WWE 2K series after what it called a “disappointing” debut.
The publisher said in its February earnings call that it was “actively working” with the California-based developer to improve the quality of future games.