WWE 2K20

If you’re a dedicated WWE2K gamer, this day has been coming for a while. With each new release in the franchise, complaints from players have been getting louder about the lack of innovations and new features. Universe mode has been broken for years. Story modes are short and unfulfilling. Making progress through career mode is impossible without microtransactions or loot boxes, and graphics have barely progressed since WWE2K15. When news of WWE2K20’s launch arrived later in the year than everyone expected it to, it was hoped that 2K had taken the time to correct some of these age-old mistakes.

As you’ve probably already read by now, they haven’t.

The writing was probably on the wall for this gaming franchise when it was reported that long-time developer Yukes was no longer working on the range, leaving 2K to fend for themselves. In the past, it hasn't always been clear which company was responsible for the issues the game faced with seemingly every annual release. It's now painfully clear that Yukes were doing the majority of the heavy lifting, and without their assistance, 2K has been left to release a broken, glitched, unplayable disaster of a game. It isn't just bad - fans are used to getting a bad game to start with, and waiting while it's slowly repaired by patch after patch. It's atrocious, and people who've parted with upwards of $60 to buy it on the day of its release haven't been shy about telling the world what they think.

This could have been a victory for 2K if they’d put the work in. They started off by getting something right. After many long years, paid loot boxes are no longer in the game. We all know the issue with loot boxes; they work like mobile slots. You pay a price to take a gamble that the content of the boxes will be worth having - the exact same way mobile slots players part with their money for a chance at an unknown reward. The difference between loot boxes and mobile slots is that mobile slots players are adults who know what they’re doing. Video gamers - especially WWE gamers - are often children who would never be legally permitted to gamble under normal circumstances. Loot boxes are deeply unpopular with gamers, and they’re on their way out. 2K finally seem to have got that message loud and clear.

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We thought we'd clear that point off early because it's the only thing we can give the developer any credit for in these circumstances. Releasing a game in a condition this poor isn't a mistake - it's unforgivable, and it's calculated. There's no way that they didn't know the game didn't work when they published it. Anyone who had playtested it for more than an hour would be entirely aware that it was unstable and inoperable. In every way possible, it's a downgrade on last year's WWE2K19: so much so that many players have simply given up and gone back to playing the previous title.

Video gaming, despite its mass popularity, is still a niche interest. You don't often see it get mainstream press attention outside of the launch of a huge new game, for example, something from the 'Call of Duty' series. WWE2K20 has been getting plenty of mainstream press attention for all the wrong reasons. A day after its release, the hashtag #FixWWE2K20 was trending worldwide on Twitter. The world's press began to notice, and they started talking to players. That resulted in articles being written that have to be considered embarrassing for 2K.

News outlets don’t come much bigger than the BBC, and they were among the first to pick up on the problems. In an article that contained pictures and videos of terrible glitches, they reported that the wrestling characters in the game sink through the ring, freeze in place, and fight invisible opponents. Wrestling legend Rey Mysterio’s mask dissolves into his face. Many of the women suffer the indignity of having their hair appear to fall off. In some cases, the game simply crashes completely and exits to the menu screen of the PC or games console it’s being played on. In 2019, issues like that are almost unheard of.

WWE 2K20

All of these problems would be considered severe in their own right, but some fans who’d paid extra money for ‘limited edition’ versions of the game containing autographed pictures of WWE legends and a downloadable version of current WWE Universal Champion ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt contacted the news agency to state that their pictures weren’t autographed, and the promised download was inaccessible. WWE Hall of Famer Edge has invited fans who didn’t receive his autograph to contact him via Twitter so he can personally ensure the autographs are received.

For their part, 2K has promised that a series of patches will be released to correct the problems, although the 'Day One' glitch didn't turn up on day one as planned, and hasn't fixed several of the more serious issues that users flagged to the developer. More patches are on their way, but it's hard to imagine how any patch could result in a significant upgrade to the graphics, which by this point are so bad that they wouldn't look out of place on a previous-generation console game. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, for example - one of the most famous people in the world - is almost unrecognizable in the game. Long hair sticks to the characters lifelessly like it's been glued into place - unless it comes away from their head entirely. Progress on this front looks unlikely until next year's version of the game.

That brings us to our closing point - should there be a version of the game next year at all? The game engine is years old, the graphics are dreadful, and the format is uninspired. It's high time that the series had a complete reboot, and a new game engine was built from the ground up. Given that WWE will doubtless have been displeased with the level of negative attention this game received, it might be the case that the company's management decides that 2K are no longer the best people for the job.