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Video Games: November 2006 Update



1 December 2006

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Halloween has passed, and with Christmas fast approaching one would hope there’d be a whole range of titles hitting our shelves to keep us entertained, or to be eagerly waiting to unwrap on Christmas morning. One quick gander around and we have one title and one title only in Smackdown Vs Raw 2007, and by the time you’ll be reading this (I can still maintain that false hope people read articles with my name at the bottom) you will have no doubt been squeezing every last bit of fun to be had out of the title. So for this months article it’s pretty much a scrape the barrel edition, but there has been one key story that has broken out that could combust the whole wrestling games world as we speak; a monumental tale that could knock you off of the back of your chair in shock. Well yes, to say I have over egged this is an understatement, but the issue does have importance in regard to the future of WWE affiliated titles, so read on and enjoy.

WWE News

This big news in the WWE games world has been that the WWE has officially filed a lawsuit against THQ, publisher of their titles whom they signed a ten-year deal with. WWE is blaming the company for improper sales of video games in Asia. This could inevitably lead to a split between the camps marking SD Vs Raw 2007 as the last release as a tandem between the two parties.

The success of the Smackdown series puts the WWE in a great position to negotiate a great deal with whom ever. Whether it would mean we get titles as good as THQ's Yuke's or AKI's efforts is another matter, but that is hardly the WWE's concern when they can get a deal for their product for more money, and exploit the money they can make in the Japanese market where their previous SD titles have gone down a storm. And that’s essentially what it is all over, WWE feel they aren't getting all that their product is earning in Japan in the form of these games, with THQ exploiting their name to sell the titles without giving the WWE what the WWE believe is the correct cut of what they are making on the back of it. THQ release the WWE titles in Japan under a different mantra called ‘Exciting Pro Wrestling’ which does not include mention of the WWE name on the box art, but contain the same WWE owned properties within the game.

Of course the WWE feel that they should be getting more of a cut for the way their properties are still being used to sell the title. And if it means that they have to get the deal terminated in order to negotiate a deal with another publisher to see this cash then of course they will. WWE’s main grievance is that they signed their deal with a joint venture of THQ and Jakk’s Pacific (makers of the WWE action figures), and THQ has negated this partnership deal to make a fast buck for them from the WWE product in Japan. The WWE feels this will ease their case against THQ as it goes against whom they signed the ten year publishing rights deal with, and free them to seek a better deal financially with another company. But of course THQ won't give up easy because of the money the franchise is making them, so it will be an interesting battle.

But who would be interested in taking the WWE license? Of course we can only speculate but my suspicions are that EA would be a company to throw their hat into the proverbial ring, with their past experience with their WCW license (which included the ill fated development of a WCW title with AKI which met its demise when the WWE purchased the wrestling company), and how with the right marketing (something EA are experts in the gaming world at due to their sheer size), I can see it being a partnership suiting both parties. Some of the AKI team still being onboard developing the latest Def Jam title, Def Jam Icon, bodes well for the fans of No Mercy on the N64 and under the EA umbrella the WWE titles could move on to greater things. Then there is my dark horse, Konami. Infamous now for their Rumble Roses franchise, the interesting thing about Konami is that Yukes actually develop Rumble Roses under Konami’s developmental eye. So obviously if Konami were to snap up the license and keep Yukes onside, we would see a continuation of the WWE/Yukes partnership seen in the Smackdown titles. Whatever way this turns out, it is certainly going to be intriguing.

TNA News

News is pretty scarce on the release of ‘TNA Impact!’ with nothing new arising that hasn’t already been released. One would assume TNA and Midway wanted to wait a tad until the furore over the latest WWE title died down in an attempt to not be over shadowed.

Jeff Jarrett in an interview with IGN at the beginning of the month was busy hyping the title, and it was revealed that Midway was on hand shooting wrestlers (not point blank, they like a bit of a challenge) and getting some crowd chants recorded. A playable model of AJ Styles is in place, and Jarrett has emphasised how hands on the company have been with Midway’s Chicago studio, taking a subtle dig at the big company running from Titan Towers stating that they didn’t want to be distant from the title like certain others have been in the past. While my reservations remain from the fact the teams previous title was Backyard Wrestling, the talk from Jarrett and in general of the signature matches like the Ultimate X, and King of the Mountain offers something unique enough to add something different to the market. An alternative is always a good thing if it is handled well of course, and while it still confuses me as to why someone would want to win a title by hanging it up first, I am intrigued enough to see how the team fare. I wonder if Russo’s exciting creations will make it in time to grace the title mind, as I’m sure there is a wide range of fans licking their lips at the prospect of living out their dream of winning a Reverse Battle Royal.

The title is still scheduled for a 2007 release on the PS2, PS3, and the Xbox 360. No confirmation if it will grace the Wii or the DS, but one would assume it will hit the PSP.

Other News

Grey Dog Software have been busy honing Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 for its forthcoming release, but this hasn’t stopped them releasing a couple of updates to their current titles. Found in the downloads sections of Grey Dog’s website, new patches for Wrestling Spirit 2 and Total Extreme Wrestling 2005 are available to fix some of the little niggles and iron out some bug bears. Mr Ryland and his team have been continually updating a developer’s diary on their forum to detail the new features and tweaks in the 2007 version of the title, which are so vast I suggest eager punters head quickly to have a gander.

Remember to keep checking the Videogames Section as my partner in crime Fletch has an exclusive interview with Mr Ryland himself in the near future, and be sure to email Fletch all your queries related to TEW ’07 so you can get your answers from the horses mouth.

Signing Off

So not really a great deal of news to be passed on this month, but I’m sure everyone is far too busy seeking out the Boogeyman hidden away in the backstage area of SD Vs Raw to really care. But on a more serious note, 2007 is fast building up to be an interesting year for wrestling titles. With the WWE/THQ affair, TNA’s title hitting the stores and the latest Grey Dog exploits as well as the future news regarding Pro Wrestling X; it’s looking to be an exciting time to be a wrestling fan in the games world. Only one month to go until we can await the delights we have in store, so until then have a pleasant time snapping up all those gifts in the run up to Christmas, and I await your return next month.

Clarkey



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