Yuke’s, the long-standing developer of WWE games, will have no involvement with the series’ next instalment, it’s confirmed.
Speaking to VGC this week, the Japanese studio said it “does not have plans to be involved in any way in the next WWE title,” thus ending its near-20-year association with the wrestling license.
Yuke’s had worked with the WWE license since 1999’s Smackdown for PSOne. However, the most recent title, WWE 2K20, saw the studio reduced to a tech support role as 2K studio Visual Concepts took over primary development.
[UPDATE: Plans for WWE 2K21 have been cancelled, WWE has confirmed.]
Last year Yuke’s revealed in a VGC interview that it was working on a new, original wrestling IP to rival WWE 2K.
Yuke’s had previously been the sole developer on the series until 2K’s 2013 acquisition of the game rights saw it introduce Visual Concepts as support.
Typically the two companies split their duties with Yuke’s leading design, art and tech, while Visual Concepts provided animation, audio and scriptwriting.
The latest news arrives amid claims that 2K Games could skip this year’s annual wrestling instalment entirely.
Justin Leeper, who previously worked as a writer on WWE games, claimed this week that WWE 2K21 has been cancelled, according to his sources. Leeper has shared accurate details on WWE game development in the past.
Yuke’s told VGC that because it’s not involved in the next WWE game, it could not confirm the accuracy of the report.
A 2K spokesperson told VGC: “We don’t comment on rumours and speculation.”
The most recent series instalment, WWE 2K20, was a disappointing full debut for developer Visual Concepts, resulting in one of the lowest Metacritic scores in publisher 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.
At the time, it also suggested that Visual Concepts would have “more to share on their plans soon.”
“While we’re disappointed that WWE 2K20 didn’t meet our expectations, both in terms of sales and in quality, 2K is actively working with Visual Concepts to ensure that these issues are addressed in the future,” said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.
“The WWE brand continues to expand worldwide and remains a substantial longterm opportunity to grow our WWE 2K series by improving the quality of the game.”