2K Inconsistent With Making Good Games, Consistent With Upsetting its Consumers

WWE 2K24 Deluxe Edition cover with Bianca Belair (left) and Rhea Ripley (right)./Courtesy of @WWEGames on twitter

By Eden Lawrence

 

   While video game publisher, 2K, is more known for their NBA games, they have also been developing wrestling games for the WWE for the past 10 years. With 2K’s latest installment of the WWE game series WWE 2K24 quickly approaching, fans are starting to become restless at the lack of information 2K is providing. I have personally been dissatisfied with the job 2K has done with the series since taking over. Each release feels like a step down from the previous one with game features being removed, absurd button control changes, and a switch from simulation-style gameplay to an arcade style. 

   The reveal of all wrestlers playable in-game started on Feb. 19, two weeks before the deluxe edition hits shelves. Long-time fans are nervous, the last time a roster reveal started close to the release date was when WWE 2K20 was released. This game was not highly favored as video game company and partner of WWE, Yuke’s, pulled out of the project halfway through production. This left fans with a half-baked game full of visual bugs, glitches, and problems that rendered the game unplayable. Many of their announcements have been recycled from what they post on X. Even official game trailers lack new information on game modes and characters available to play. 

   The failure of 2K20 forced the company to halt its yearly releases and wait until 2022 to publish a new game. This does not seem to be the same path for 2K24. Fans of the series are excited about returning match types such as Special Guest Referee, which puts the player in the referee’s shoes giving them all the power, and Casket matches, a match where the only way for players to win is by putting their opponent inside a casket.

   Features showcased also include a new “blow-for-blow” minigame that mimics real-life wrestling matches and smaller updates that bring back the simulation style of gameplay many players enjoyed. These changes include blood stains appearing on the ring mat, characters being able to remove the straps on their singlets, and face paint fading as the match progresses. It is important to note that these features were present in past games, but were removed for unknown reasons.  

   This year, 2K24 has dedicated a game mode to the 40 years of Wrestlemania, WWE’s biggest event of the year. This is the second time a mode has centered around Wrestlemania, first being in WWE 2K14. This showcase mode will have players replicate iconic Wrestlemania moments through the wrestler’s perspective.

   Only three of these matches will be between the women’s roster. The first is a triple threat match between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 35. The following matches are Asuka versus Biana Belair, and Charlotte Flair versus Rhea Ripley, both of these matches taking place at Wrestlemania 39. This has angered many fans, especially women’s wrestling fans, resulting in them calling out 2K for ignoring the female legends of the past. They feel as though legends like Jazz, Ivory, and Victoria have been overlooked as they have competed in Wrestlemania matches before. 

   Many of the male matches in this year’s showcase, also, have been featured in past showcases already, making the mode repetitive. Out of the 18 male matches, seven of them were present in 2K14’s Wrestlemania showcase. A small handful of these matches were also present in WWE 2K16’s showcase that centered around WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Additionally, as more screenshots of 2K24 come out, many people have noticed that many character models are being copied from last year’s game. Wrestlers who have been on TV for the entire duration of the year are not getting updated models. 

   Ever since 2K has taken over, I feel like the games have lacked depth and passion. Previous WWE games developer THQ Inc. would make their games with more heart as the people who worked on it were wrestling fans themselves. They were able to make gameplay seamless and fun while also giving us enough creative freedom in customization. 

   2K seems to be out of touch with the wrestling fanbase, which always results in a game that just misses the mark. The closest they came was with WWE 2K19, a game that is still highly praised within the community. Their streak was quickly ruined, however, by the aforementioned 2K20 release. 

   My expectations with 2K24 aren’t extremely high. I will always have love for the WWE games, as it was the first console game I remember playing. But I can’t deny that it has been harder each year to get myself psyched for a new release because of how 2K operates. Their focus on monetary gain over bringing joy back to the series disheartens me.

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