In the world of video games, World Wrestling Entertainment has been a constant presence since the release of MicroLeague Wrestling on the Commodore 64 in 1987. The 2000s saw WWE games become an annual affair like all other sports games, with each new iteration of its core series – now known as WWE 2K – providing players with an updated list of competitors and new innovations, for better or for worse.
The 2010s were a particularly interesting time for WWE games, as the series saw a number of changes and some fun additions over the years, as well as an absolute disaster. Now that the decade is over, let’s take a look at what fans need to know about WWE video games from the 2010s.
ten The series changed its name in 2012
With the year 2004 came the release of SmackDown vs. Raw, WWE’s premier video game series. Named to reflect the brand split which gave Raw and Smack downshow exclusive listings, SmackDown vs. Raw was an annual event for gamers and proved to be very popular. In 2011, WWE ended the brand split and so the video game series had to be renamed. SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, which was discontinued in October 2010, was the last game to bear this name, and subsequent games were simply named WWE ’12 and WWE ’13.
9 Switched to 2K games from THQ
Since 1999, WWE games have been published by California-based THQ, including not only all SmackDown vs. Raw series, but also the Nintendo 64 classic wwf no mercy. WWE ’13 was the last of the WWE games released by THQ, as the company sadly filed for bankruptcy in 2012. From there, 2K Sports – owned by Take Two Interactive – acquired the license to make WWE video games, resulting in games the name of annual variation on WWE 2K. The games themselves were still made by Japanese developer Yuke’s, so the quality remained fairly consistent.
8 WWE All Stars deviated from format
Among the WWE games of the 2010s, there is a strange little outlier. Released in 2011 on multiple platforms including PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and even handheld systems, All WWE Stars offered a different type of wrestling game than the norm.
Rather than trying to simulate professional wrestling as accurately as possible like the main series, All WWE Stars took an over-the-top arcade fighting game approach to professional wrestling. Additionally, the roster features a good number of legendary talents alongside current WWE stars – fitting, given the name of the game.
seven Online game canceled
In 2011, WWE and THQ attempted to jump on the online PC gaming bandwagon with a free game that was to be called SmackDown vs. Raw Online to reflect the name of the main series at the time. Developed by South Korea-based Vertigo Games specifically for the Korean PC gaming market, SmackDown vs. Raw Online would have had players competing in the online game as well as interacting to trade items. Although some trailers were made for E3, unfortunately fans couldn’t see the game come to fruition as THQ canceled it in 2011.
6 Nostalgia Modes
WWE spent much of the 2010s milking nostalgia for old wrestling with appearances from “WWE Legends,” and video games were no different. The rosters of many WWE games have been heavy with retired legends, including not only icons like Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin, but random inclusions like Virgil and Colonel Robert Parker. Several games from this era feature story modes that allow fans to recreate specific matches and even moments from the past, with WWE ’13 focusing on the attitude era while WWE 2K14 immersed in the history of WrestleMania.
5 Showcase 2K
Starting with WWE 2K15, WWE 2K games featured a mode called 2K Showcase, a story mode in which players fought through past wrestling stories but weren’t always beholden to the long-running classics. While 2K15’s showcase covered the CM Punk/John Cena rivalry and the Triple H/Shawn Michaels rivalry, other games covered entire careers, with 2K16 focusing on Steve Austin or 2K19 on Daniel Bryan. Then there is the controversy (see below) WWE 2K20which delved into recent history focusing on the rise of the Four Horsewomen of NXT.
4 My career
In addition to the nostalgic single-player story modes, WWE 2K games also features a single-player mode called MyCareer, which debuted with WWE 2K15. Rather than playing as a WWE star of the past, players here use the character creation feature to create their own wrestler and work through a fictional WWE career, spanning from Performance Center to WrestleMania and even a retirement match.
Subsequent games in the series have expanded on the MyCareer mode, making it a rather convoluted affair where a player’s choices – not only winning and losing matches, but also rosters and interactions with other wrestlers – affect the course of the story.
3 Original stories
With the series’ more recent interactions – especially 2K20 – the WWE 2K games have increasingly featured original stories in addition to the nostalgia simulator aspect of games. WWE 2K20 includes a female-only MyCareer story mode that will take place in the near future, but the game also featured DLC expansions for the game called “WWE 2K Originals”, with new story modes as well as special items, arenas and costumes . There were four in total: a post-apocalyptic story, a horror story, a futuristic story and one based on Southpaw Regional Wrestling.
2 WWE 2K19 was Yuke’s swan song
Starting in 2000, WWE’s main game series was produced by Japanese developer Yuke’s, PlayStation 2000 game Smack down! and enter the SmackDown vs. Raw series and in the 2010s. However, WWE 2K19 was the last game that Yuke would develop with the WWE license, with 2K20 being handled by a different developer, Visual Concepts, who had worked with Yuke on previous WWE games. After nearly two decades of WWE matches, Yuke came out with a bang, as WWE 2K19 was one of the best-received games in the series and looked even better to fans considering the game that followed.
1 WWE 2K20 was a disaster
Released in October 2019, WWE 2K20 couldn’t be worse. The developer change didn’t bode well, and fan expectations were met by one of the most high-profile video game failures of recent years. The game itself was considered a weak follow-up to the beloved WWE 2K19, with poorer graphics, worse gameplay, and lacking many of the innovations that fans had grown accustomed to in Yuke’s era. On top of that, the thing was barely working when it was released, as it was plagued with bugs and issues.