Well, this is embarrassing Cagesiders. Somehow we missed this WWE press release on Feb. 20th that confirmed the news that we reported way back on Jan. 23rd, namely that the WWE video game license was going to end up in the hands of 2K Games:
"New York, NY AND Stamford, Conn. – February 20, 2013 – 2K and WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced that they have entered into an exclusive multi-year agreement granting 2K the exclusive worldwide rights to publish the critically acclaimed WWE video game franchise across all major platforms and distribution channels. The series, which will continue to be developed by Yukes in Japan, will combine the studio’s signature gameplay with 2K’s commitment to authenticity in WWE ’14, the latest iteration of the popular, long running series. With the addition of the WWE franchise, 2K will continue a highly-successful, 15-year tradition established by past WWE titles. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The WWE series is a great addition to our stable of triple-A titles, and we’re very happy with this exclusive agreement with our new partners," said David Ismailer, Chief Operating Officer for 2K. "We look forward to capturing the excitement of WWE and marrying it with the same commitment to authenticity and entertainment that we give to our NBA 2K and MLB 2K franchises."
2K has a strong history in growing premier sports simulation titles, evidenced by the incredible commercial success of the NBA 2K series, with more than 15 million units of NBA 2K11, NBA 2K12 and NBA 2K13 sold-in to date worldwide. This year, in the first week of its release, NBA 2K13 sold 49 percent more copies in the same time frame than the franchise’s previous record-holder, NBA 2K11.
"2K’s reputation for outstanding quality and dedication to authenticity are a perfect fit for WWE," added Casey Collins, Executive Vice President, Consumer Products for WWE. "This new partnership will ensure that WWE continues to be one of the leading video game brands in the world and we look forward to continuing the franchise with the benefit of their expertise across a variety of platforms."
"The development work on the WWE franchise is impressive, and we’re excited to combine our background in developing the NBA 2K series with theirs in this new partnership," concluded Greg Thomas, Executive Vice President of 2K Sports. "Fans can expect the most authentic WWE experience on game consoles this fall."
Developed by Yukes, WWE ’14 is not yet rated by the ESRB and will be available for consoles in the fall of 2013.
For more information on 2K, visit www.2K.com.
2K is a wholly owned publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO)."
What this likely means is more of the same, at least in the short term, due to Yuke's reaching a deal with WWE/2K Games to continue being the developer of the franchise and the short turnaround time to get the next instalment out.
- The "exclusive multi-year agreement" is for five years.
- Yuke's will develop the game with Visual Concepts, 2K Games' in-house developer of their sports games, most notably their NBA basketball and MLB baseball annual series.
- The reason WWE was able to negotiate the deal for themselves without being put up for auction in bankruptcy court like all of THQ's other assets was because in return for this concession WWE agreed to reduce its financial claims against THQ for breaching their lucrative contract together that had many years left to run.
- As part of this agreement, 2K Games has hired the 14 THQ employees who were already working on the WWE '14 video game, which saved the bankrupt company from having to pay all those workers severance packages.
- In the end, WWE was unconditionally released from their $7.5 million per year plus royalties THQ contract and only received $650,000 in royalties for the WWE '13 game, much less than what they were owed based on sales.
- Yuke's were apparently owed $15-20 million from THQ too, but they settled for THQ returning their 14% ownership stake in the company, stock worth $4.5 million, and being paid $250,000 in cash.
- The WWE '14 game will have to be rushed to be finished in time for the fall 2013 publication date, due to all the problems THQ's bankruptcy has caused.
So what are your thoughts about the future of the WWE video game series now, Cagesiders, having been brought up to speed with the latest?