So the state of WWE games is pretty bad right now. For those of you that haven’t been paying attention, 2K has effectively ruined the franchise. After years of stripping out mechanics and putting content behind loot boxes and grindy mechanics, they may have well killed it with a notoriously buggy WWE 2K20. The game was handled by a support studio that had worked on the previous games, and boy, was it terrible. Everything was wrong. Unnecessary mechanical and control changes, tons of bugs, completely unrealistic character modeling, and so much more. The game even had a borked internal clock that broke key features.
At the time, the publisher put out a statement after the 2K20 disaster, here’s the relevant bit. Between the spin and corporate hype language, there was something buried that may hint at what to expect.
“We are applying what we’ve learned to the next WWE 2K simulation game with a renewed focus on quality and fun. 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). 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.”
Hearing all the hype doctoring has me and other fans concerned that they’re going to strip out even more from 2K22 in order to cater to a more casual audience. We will have to wait until launch to see. And by the way, we finally know the release date of WWE 2K22.
On April 10, 2021, WWE and Take-Two aired the first teaser for WWE 2K22, which can be seen below. The franchise has been quiet since then. And if the statement above is any indication, a lot of fans are pretty pessimistic. On January 20, 2K confirmed that WWE 2K22 will launch on March 11. Individuals who purchase the special edition of the game will get three days of early access, beginning on March 8.
The game is still a long way off, so we don’t have much to go on right now. But even the cover art tells us something. Rey Mysterio will be the cover star for this year. There’s also a variant nWo cover. And with the new MyFaction mode, the clear goal seems to be to hype up comparisons to older WWE games that featured stables and customizable storylines. So in short, Visual Concepts is hoping nostalgia will save this mess.
If 2K learned anything from the disaster that was WWE 2K20, they better be changing an awful lot. The positively buggy mess that the last game was on launch was never really addressed. The launch of that buggy mess was so infamously bad for the franchise that they straight up skipped WWE 2K21.
The release schedule just continuing at pace and releasing at 2K22 might be a bad sign. The common critique of sports games from 2K and Electronic Arts just being the same game every year is certainly hanging over this new game. And with the specter of a microtransaction-heavy gameplay loop will certainly return. I have little doubt that 2K will just keep that annoying grind of their other sports games in place, so prepare to spam matches to be able to unlock customization parts, again. Such fun.
And seeing that the publisher is once again using the tired tropes of multiple overpriced editions and pre-orders, I’m rather concerned that they’re really just going to release another broken game. It’s also worth noting that Visual Concepts, the same team behind the last game, is returning. And according to some reports, they lost a ton of staff after the disastrous launch, and their budget has been cut by 2K. So make of that what you will.