Yuke’s Splits from WWE Games After Nearly 20 Years, Working on New Wrestling IP
Japanese video game developer Yuke’s has ended its relationship with publisher 2K Sports, after nearly two decades working on WWE’s annual releases.
Yuke’s tenure developing WWE video games actually stretches far beyond 2K’s involvement, as their parent company Take-Two Interactive inherited the publishing rights to the series from THQ in early 2013. They have actually been working on the franchise since WWF SmackDown! in 2000.
It would appear that the WWE team at Yuke’s will stay on going forward, as senior VP and producer Hiromi Furuta noted in a statement that they are actually “trying to launch a new wrestling game”.
“We are aware that our creators are beginning to lose sight of their passion and confidence and becoming focused only on completing assigned tasks. That’s not the direction Yuke’s wants to go in.
Right now, looking at the market demands, 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.
For example, 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.
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We are trying to launch a new wrestling game. Of course, we will retain the WWE team, but we are also aware that our creators are beginning to lose sight of their passion and confidence and becoming focused only on completing assigned tasks. That’s not the direction Yuke’s wants to go in. So, in order to compensate, we’re going to start a new wrestling project.”
Going forward, the annual WWE 2K releases will be developed completely in-house through Visual Concepts, which has been assisting in development of the series since WWE 2K15.
As for Yuke’s potentially creating a new professional wrestling IP, their relationship with business actually extends beyond WWE. In 1995 they released Shin Nippon Pro Wrestling: Toukon Retsuden in collaboration with NJPW in Japan, rebranded as Power Move Pro Wrestling internationally.
In addition to multiple games put out in that series, Yuke’s also developed a game called Online Pro Wrestling for the PS2, the all-female wrestling series Rumble Roses, and a duet of Wrestle Kingdom games for PS2 and XBox 360, all released in Japan.