All Elite Wrestling announced like, I dunno, three games at once a couple of years ago. They all sounded terrible and we haven’t posted about them (also because a bunch of them aren’t on PC). AEW: Fight Forever, still officially Coming Soon, is their first crack at a sweaty graps sim to rival WWE’s series, and today it was confirmed the publisher is THQ Nordic. This not only means that we’ll see more gameplay at next week’s THQ Nordic showcase, per a tiny teaser, but it adds another horse to the confusing carousel of companies that have worked on wrestling sims.
Bear with me here, but the WWE games used to be made by Yuke’s, and were published by THQ until THQ liquidated in the 2010s. The WWE license passed to Take-Two Interactive and the games were published under 2K Sports, but still made by Yuke’s until development was taken over by 2K’s studio Visual Concepts studio from WWE 2K20 onwards.
This freed Yuke’s up to become the developer of AEW: Fight Forever. Meanwhile, Nordic Games got hold of the THQ trademark (among other things) in THQ’s great assets firesale, and thus started calling themselves THQ Nordic in 2016. To be clear, THQ Nordic are not the same as THQ, but it’s interesting to see that AEW have almost sort of set themselves up with the original wrestledev team – or at least have the same logos, anyway.
A press release tells me that Kenny Omega, a man who has moves named after Final Fantasy characters, had an Undertale-themed promo, and once came to a match dressed as Sans, said “one of the first things I did after signing with AEW was to ask Tony Khan to let me help assemble the best gaming team on the planet, to make the best wrestling game ever.” The thing is, the most recent WWE games haven’t set the world alight. 2K22 has been better recieved, but 2K20 was panned to a “stop, stop, he’s already dead!” level, so Fight Forever doesn’t even need to hit best ever status. If it can manage to be slightly less janky than the competition, AEW could be on to a winner. Heck, Yuke’s might be able to dust off some old assets as well. They’ve surely got a CM Punk and a Chris Jericho knocking around.
It’s actually a nice mirror of how AEW’s existence has invigorated pro-wrestling a bit. Whether you like or hate either company, WWE subsuming all rivals and having no competition for years was very boring (and I’m not even going to get into the current shenanigans going on over there, good lord). At a base level, consolidation is bad for consumers and competition is good. Perhaps a rival game series will spur Visual Concepts to greater heights as well.
Personally, I’m just pleased that we’ll get more press releases where PRs have to work in pro-wrestling terms like “push” or describe rights deals as the “tag-team event of the century”. Look out for more Fight Forever at the THQ Nordic digital showcase on August 12 (that’s next Friday).