The WWE video game license will be acquired by 2K Games parent company Take-Two Interactive, reports IGN.
THQ, the former licensee for WWE games, filed for bankruptcy last month. Its assets, including studios and intellectual property, were sold piecemeal at auction today; pending approval of the sales by a federal bankruptcy court judge, THQ will cease to exist as a company. Since THQ did not own the rights to the WWE brand — the company licensed them from the wrestling organization — or the WWE games' developer, Yuke's Co., the WWE license was not up for bidding, and WWE's contract with THQ will likely die with the publisher.
That suggests that Take-Two's new agreement with WWE was negotiated separately from THQ's bankruptcy proceedings and its asset auction. Terms of the contract are not available at this time; we've reached out to Take-Two for more details and will update this post with any information we receive.
Take-Two is the parent company of 2K Games and 2K Sports. The latter subsidiary currently publishes two major annual sports franchises, NBA 2K and MLB 2K, both of which are developed by in-house studio Visual Concepts. It's unclear at this point if Visual Concepts would also develop Take-Two's WWE games, if the publisher plans to hire an outside developer for the franchise or if it will even release a WWE title in 2013.
According to the bankruptcy filing, THQ owed WWE $45 million for the remainder of its most recent licensing contract with WWE, which took effect in 2010 and was scheduled to run through 2017. Upon the announcement of THQ's bankruptcy filing, WWE issued a statement saying it did not anticipate that the "ultimate economic impact for financial statement purposes would materially and adversely affect the results of operations or financial position of WWE in light of the strength of the WWE brand and the historical performance of WWE's video game business."
THQ had been publishing WWE games for more than a decade, starting in 1999 with the Nintendo 64 title WWF WrestleMania 2000. The most recent and final entry in the franchise was WWE '13, which launched last October.
Update: The Twitter account for the WWE video game franchise said the series will continue, but provided no further details:
We don't have any details to share yet, but there WILL continue to be WWE Games. Stay tuned for more information and some exciting news!— WWE Games (@WWEgames) January 23, 2013