Take-Two Interactive and the WWE have quite literally been negotiating over exclusivity rights for WWE wrestling games since prior to THQ filing chapter 11. That means that while a basic agreement has been in place between the WWE and the publisher, negotiations over the contract details have gone on for months. Nevertheless the contract is now finished and what it means for the WWE gaming franchise going forward may surprise you.
That is, they'll surprise you because at least for the near future nothing is going to change. Take-Two has enlisted Yuke's, WWE game developers for years now, to continue their work on WWE 14 -- though it's likely to be renamed WWE 2K14 now, much like the publisher's popular NBA franchise. Take-Two also hired key THQ designers to help, along with the THQ "Fight Team" to help with marketing. It's it's as if nothing's changed except Take-Two's publishing experience and lofty standards.
Jason Argent, Take-Two VP of marketing, offered the following outlook going forward:
"We’ve looked at the WWE franchise with respect for a long time. There are a lot of similarities that we see, from the size of the franchise to the demographics of the franchise, and they fit in very well with what we’ve done with NBA in terms of development and marketing. We thought we could add tremendous value right off the bat and down the road. We’re super excited to get an agreement in place."
The five-year contract's long-term potential may see a changing of the guard, however, as Take-Two has assigned their Visual Concepts studio to work hand-in-hand with Yuke's on WWE going forward. Visual Concepts is responsible for, well, all of Take-Two's sports titles -- from Hockey to Basketball, and college sports as NCAA sports as well. WWE 2K14 is still Yuke's' in order to get a title out in 2013, but in 2014?
What this means right now, however, is that WWE fans will get another WWE title later this year from the developers they've come to trust, and a publisher dedicated to their franchise going forward. If it doesn't turn out like they hope, well, five years is a rather short contract. I'd expect Take-Two to deliver, however.