WWE 13: Why the Next Step Should Be a Wrestling Booker Game
When THQ gets back in the studio to work on next year's WWE video game, they'll be hard pressed to top WWE 13. Alongside WWE 14, they should also release a video game where the fan is the booker, not the wrestler.
Does it sound nerdy?
Sure, but it's not as if nerds, wrestling and video games haven't been interlinked before. It may not be a massive seller, but should this develop into an ongoing series it could develop a devoted fanbase.
The strange thing about pro wrestling games is that it ignores the fact that the action is scripted.
The spectacle of sports entertainment has rendered beautifully in recent years, but it's presented as a true, competitive sport. Wrestling video games have incorporated the soap opera-like storylines and outside-the-ring activity, but they're still essentially fighting games with familiar superstars.
Packing more legends and current wrestlers into WWE 14, increasing the options and customizability is great, but what about a game for the armchair bookers out there?
Every wrestling fan is, in his or her mind, a smarter booker than the ones actually in charge.
In a WWE booker game, players would step into Vince McMahon's shoes and run the company the way they see fit, to craft their ideal WWE.
Instead of the goal of the game being taking your created wrestler to the top of the WWE and winning a plethora of championships, it would be to keep the fans entertained, to appease the wrestlers' egos and to make the maximum profit.
SmackDown vs. Raw offered a GM mode for a few years, but it could have gone a lot deeper.
Detail-oriented, nerd-pleasing games like MLB Front Office and NFL Head Coach have not been smash hits, but the pro wrestling promoter experience has a unique appeal.
Signing places and running practices just doesn't have the panache that building a perfect WrestleMania card does.
Players would decide which wrestlers would hold each championship and which ones would feud with others, and players would build momentum between pay-per-views.
Of course, if you shove John Cena down at the bottom of the card or keep him off Raw for a few episodes, he'll grow unhappy. You'll have to find a way to please him while still keeping your personal favorites in the company's key spots.
You decide how matches play out.
In traditional video games you control a wrestler and have him beat up his opponent. Very little emphasis is placed on how entertaining the match is.
The booker game would let gamers script the basic narrative of the story, insert a few key spots and let the wrestlers do their thing.
Do your decisions result in a sloppy, awkward bout or a five-star match? What do you do to keep feuds interesting?
Players would get points for crowd reaction, for critical acclaim and for how much money each show brought in.
Virtual wrestling promoters will need to scour the indies and Japan for new talent, form stables and assign managers with wrestlers.
They'd also be in charge of turning heroes to villains, altering gimmicks and releasing under-productive talent.
The abundance of the creation modes of recent WWE video games would still be there. They would just exist for a different purpose.
Can gamers create the next Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan?
There are already some online promoter simulator games such as Extreme Warfare Revenge 4.0. The concept is executed quite well in some, but they are mostly text-based games.
Typing words in a game with no sound, no matter how cool the programming is, can't compete with the depth and high-production value of console games.
Booking Encore is a downloadable wrestling booker simulation game with actual images, but its graphics are rudimentary.
This video game would certainly appeal most to a niche market. It's a risky proposition to take away players' control of the wrestlers, but if programmed well, this could be a deep, engrossing gaming experience.
After every episode of Raw, after ever pay-per-view main event, there is always a chorus of fans lamenting WWE's choices.
"I would have done it this way," they say.
This video game would be their chance to do that and to see if their plans would result in WWE's next golden age or have fans disinterested.
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