After seven years of the increasingly played out and irrelevant Smackdown vs. Raw concept and an aging game engine, THQ's WWE video game franchise was starting to look a bit old in the tooth and sales were beginning to flag. Perhaps a few years too late, THQ decided to massively overhaul their flagship game, rebranding it WWE '12 in the manner of EA Sports' annual upgrades of their Madden NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA Elite and Tiger Woods PGA Tour series.
They also managed to land the services of one Brock Lesnar for the project, which is a testament to their negotiating abilities, as it isn't every day that the ultra competitive Dana White and Vince McMahon agree to work together, especially when UFC gets little benefit from it. They also had the good fortune of The Rock returning to the WWE fold this year allowing him to be included in the game too. On paper, this had smash hit written all over it, even with interest in WWE being pretty flat at the moment. But have sales managed to meet such lofty expectations?
Despite mixed reviews from critics, the revamp has indeed turned around WWE's gaming business. Mike Aldren of the Wrestling Globe Newsletter has obtained sales figures and they're highly impressive to say the least:
WWE 12 is on track to crack sales of 1 million before the end of the year.... For the week ending 12/6 (first two weeks on sale), the game had sold more than 810,000 units worldwide across three platforms (Xbox 360--381,585; PlayStation 3--315,780; Wii--113,529). WWE and THQ are both said to be thrilled with the sales figures. As a comparison, Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, in it's first two weeks of sales sold 416,000 units; SVR 2010 sold 459,000 units; and SVR 2009 sold 454,000 units, across five platforms respectively.
This is great news before Christmas for all the WWE performers who made the cut to be included in the game roster, as they should receive a bonus close to double the size of the past three years. You can understand now why Chris Jericho might have been genuinely upset at being excluded from the game. He's lost out on a significant sum of money.
This should guarantee WWE a strong final quarter to end the year on, which will probably be their penultimate one for some time, as they step into the highly risky, unknown territory of running their own 24/7 network come April.
It will be imperative that the renewed success of their game franchise continues with next year's installment to offset the losses that will inevitably come with the costly WWE network in its first year of business.