Take-Two and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) have signed an exclusive five-year licensing agreement for the WWE video game series, and the first entry in the franchise, WWE '14, is due out this fall, reports ESPN.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and platforms for WWE '14 have not yet been announced.
Yuke's, the Japanese studio behind THQ's WWE games, will pick up where it left off on developing its 2013 WWE title. Take-Two has hired the THQ Fight Team, the internal group that managed development and marketing of the WWE series; that team will report to 2K Sports' design team at Visual Concepts, the 2K-owned studio behind the company's NBA 2K and MLB 2K franchises.
"We've been very happy with what [Yuke's] has done in the past," said Casey Collins, WWE's executive vice president of consumer products, in an interview with ESPN. "What we're going to do moving forward is meld [Yuke's] with the team at Visual Concepts, so we can have the best of both worlds. Having [Yuke's] experience and then getting the Visual Concepts guys on board with them, we think this is going to be a dynamic duo."
Collins added that 2K Sports' staggering success with its NBA 2K series, including moves like bringing on Jay-Z as executive producer of NBA 2K13, was a major factor in WWE's decision to sign with Take-Two.
"As we look at the next-gen systems coming out," said Collins, "we want to make sure we align our property with who we thought would be a leader going forward on these next-gen systems."
"we've been very happy with what Yuke's has done in the past"
Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports, told ESPN that the company hopes to hit the same heights with WWE that it has reached with NBA 2K.
"Everything that we've done with NBA is what we're trying to contribute to WWE," he said. "So the growth that you've [seen] in the NBA franchise from the authenticity in the game to the excitement of the marketing that surrounds it is all something we expect to add to the franchise."
The deal was made possible last week, when WWE, Take-Two, bankrupt publisher THQ and Yuke's came together to transfer development and publishing of WWE titles from THQ to Take-Two. In a motion the four companies filed Feb. 12 in federal bankruptcy court, WWE and Yuke's were allowed to dissolve their deals with THQ so they could sign with Take-Two, which agreed to bring on both Yuke's and the THQ Fight Team.
Included in the THQ Fight Team that was moved to 2K Sports is WWE Games community manager Aubrey Sitterson, who introduced the team in a post on the 2K Sports website.
"We're all looking forward to a new era of WWE Games, but there's no need to worry that there will be any loss of continuity from the old days, as the good folks at 2K have brought on the WWE Games team you know and love," he said, listing development officials such as creative director Cory Ledesma and senior game designer Bryan Williams.
"With the support of the tremendous, talented teams at 2K, we all have great things to look forward to," Sitterson added. He also explained that 2K will take over support of at least one back-catalog THQ title — WWE '13, the most recent entry in the franchise.