Longtime developer Yuke’s is out of the WWE 2K picture

Brock Lesnar in WWE 2K20, the first entry in the franchise that will not be developed by Yuke’s.
Visual Concepts/2K Sports

Yuke’s Co. is no longer developing WWE video games. 2K Games, the publisher of licensed WWE titles since 2013, confirmed on Tuesday that its in-house studio Visual Concepts is now solely in charge of the franchise, cutting out a developer whose history in making pro wrestling games goes back almost 20 years.

“We thank Yuke’s for their years of partnership and are excited to see what the Visual Concepts team brings to the franchise moving forward,” 2K said in a statement to Polygon. The news was first reported Tuesday by Video Games Chronicle.

Yuke’s, which earlier this year announced it was developing an original pro wrestling title, also acknowledged the split in its own statement to VGC, though it said it would “continue providing support to 2K with regard to the game engine.”

Osaka, Japan-based Yuke’s has been a maker of wrestling and fighting games since the early 1990s. It delivered annual titles for the WWE’s SmackDown! and Raw TV events from 2000 to 2012, under publisher THQ. The companies also created a surprisingly successful series of Ultimate Fighting Championship games, UFC Undisputed; the UFC license is now held by EA Sports.

THQ’s bankruptcy and liquidation dispersed numerous big-name properties in 2012 and 2013, and 2K Sports parent Take-Two Interactive picked up the WWE license at a fire-sale price. In the years since, the series — rebranded WWE 2K, with Yuke’s and Visual Concepts working jointly on it — has steadily changed to reflect the priorities of its new publisher, particularly with the introduction of premium downloadable content and a story-based career suite evocative of NBA 2K’s MyCareer mode.

In other words, Yuke’s lost its patron in 2012, and its relevance to this series has been bleeding out ever since. In May, the studio revealed in an interview with Video Games Chronicle that it was developing a new, unlicensed wrestling video game, acknowledging that the deteriorating relationship with 2K Sports was part of the decision to do so.

“Players are expecting something new every time we release a game and we feel like we haven’t achieved what we’ve really wanted to do,” Hiromi Furuta, senior vice president and producer at Yuke’s, said at the time. “In many cases we’re still using old assets and we’re not able to do some things in the way that we want to.”

The original wrestling project from Yuke’s so far has no name, launch window, or publishing partner. Furuta has said that the studio spun up an entirely new development team to build it, though. Her company has made professional wrestling video games for four generations of consoles going back to 1995; its history with the WWE dates to 2000’s WWF SmackDown! and WWF Royal Rumble for the PlayStation and Dreamcast.

WWE 2K20, developed by Novato, California-based Visual Concepts, is set to be released Oct. 22 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.

Comments

Aren’t these games infamous for being buggy messes? Without the brand to sell it… I’m wondering what the point will be. They sold off their share in New Japan… Maybe partner with AEW? Assuming that gains traction.

AEW should just partner with whoever makes Fire Pro Wrestling.

Good riddance! Yukes has been the sole reason why wrestling games have sucked since the N64 and they’ve needed to step down and let someone who knows what they are doing make these games. Hopefully this will lead to actual good wrestling games again.

Someone just needs to make a good wrestling game, period. The years of 2K games left a real bad taste in my mouth.

WWE wrestling games were really fun back in the PS1/PS2 days, but once the games started being more "realistic" I stopped playing. If Yukes makes another wrestling game, i hope its more arcadey.

I suspect Visual Concepts will take a realistic route.

FINALLY! They need to reassemble the AKI team that did the N64 wrestling games. Bring back the arcade fun of it.

This is somthing I would buy. I would also buy story mode dlc. Imagine getting Paul Heeman or Jim Cornette to write a year of fantasy booking for current or past product. Paul could continue ECW with your player character and all the IP WWE has. Jim could fantasy book years of smokey mountain content with all the guys he worked with. Beautiful.

Congratulations to Yukes! I get the impression they have wanted out of that relationship for a while

I haven’t enjoyed a wrestling game since the fantastic n64 Games. I’ve always wondered why someone didn’t just create a "homage" engine that duplicated the feel of the the Raw Is War game with updates graphics and some game play. That game would be evergreen in the modern age of dl content.

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