THQ, the video game company responsible for 31 of the 50 video games WWE has ever produced, has been experiencing some trouble with their business lately.
There have been announcements that THQ will be closing their branch in Japan at the end of this month. This has left a lot of questions as to the future of THQ and, with it, the future of WWE video games.
THQ has had a long relationship with WWE in making their video games. The last game made by another company was WWF Attitude, released on multiple platforms from March to November 1999. WWE would shock people by ending their long relationship with Acclaim to jump into a deal with THQ.
With the uncertainty of THQ's future, WWE could quickly turn into the hottest free agents, so to speak, in the wrestling world. The brand comes out with at least one video game per year and sells so many units of each game, which in the eyes of fans gets better and better. It's a goldmine that I don't think THQ would want to give up on if they had the choice.
I don't think WWE would have it any other way, either. On their corporate website, WWE announced at the end of 2009 that they signed an eight-year extension with THQ, beginning in 2010. That agreement doesn't run out until 2017. This came after long litigation from the two sides,
At the culmination of the litigation, THQ was left releasing this positive statement about WWE in the game industry.
Since WWE entered the video game market in 1990, it has been a recognized leader and one of the top ten best-selling brands since 1995* according to NPD Group. Through September 30, 2009, THQ has reported net sales of WWE video games in excess of $1.4 billion.
If they could help it, THQ would never lose WWE. While their fears may have been litigation coming up again in a few years, their future as a company entirely is in apparent jeopardy. It also means that fans of video games may be looking to competition for a possible replacement, should THQ fall into issues and no longer be the WWE video game producer.
There is 2K Games, who produces a series of sports-themed video games. They have also been responsible for such popular action games as the Bioshock and Borderlands series. Combined in the same realm of production for the company, that makes 2K more than capable to put together a wrestling video game, as well as the unique video game ventures that WWE occasionally has.
Activision is another interesting developer for this argument. The company, which has produced a series for True Crime, Call of Duty and Prototype, has been a notable name since the 1980s.
When the new contract for WWE and THQ was in discussion, Activision was actually a top bidder for the WWE series, but missed out to THQ. If THQ goes out of business, could Activision's higher offer mean a done deal the second time around?
When you think of sports video games, Electronic Arts is the king. EA Sports is a juggernaut in the gaming world, mainly because they like to sign exclusive deals with sports leagues.
There are annual EA games in regards to FIFA, MLB, NHL, auto racing, tennis, and the overly popular Madden NFL series. With a net income of $339 million, could the rich get richer if EA and WWE join forces?
With one successful series after another, Rockstar Games would be an interesting selection. The popular company responsible for the Grand Theft Auto series has used their technology to put together a lot of violent fighting games. Along with the Midnight Club, Max Payne and Red Dead series, WWE could join that club and be the next big Rockstar Games series.
I would personally be interested in seeing Ubisoft as a potential suitor. From Brothers in Arms to Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia, with too many Tom Clancy games sprinkled in, Ubisoft has been incredibly successful over the years.
They have also been very profitable in utilizing such technologies as XBOX's Kinect and PS3's PlayStation Move. Imagine controlling a WWE superstar with your own body and no controller.
For the immediate future, THQ still will be making WWE video games, satisfying their contract. The newest WWE game, a remake of the classic WrestleFest game, will be made available next week on Apple devices, while THQ is developing a Super Smash Brothers-style game called WWE Brawl.
Brawl is scheduled for some time this year, when THQ will likely come out with WWE '13 as well. That is, of course, if THQ is still around to make it.