File this under hearsay, but probably true: An unconfirmed rumor is out from sources tangentially connected to the WWE 2K game series saying that this year’s regularly scheduled entry in the series is canceled due to last year’s disappointing entry, among other nuggets of potential information. Normally rumors such as these would hold no weight, except this time it’s coming directly from Justin Leeper, former head narrative writer of the THQ WWE Smackdown series, which is the predecessor of the current pro wrestling game franchise put on by 2K Games. Leeper still is involved in the games industry today, providing stunt coordination work on last year’s Hideo Kojima walking delivery social isolation simulator Death Stranding.
In a video posted to his personal YouTube Page Leeper talked about the rumors swirling around the lack of an announcement about the next iteration in the WWE 2K series, as well as his own experience with working alongside WWE. Leeper makes the point that an announcement and big marketing push coincides with WrestleMania weekend, which was decidedly different this year as WWE ran a two-night, empty show arena WrestleMania full of awkward silence, anime-like existentialism, and The Undertaker killing a guy. COVID-19 strikes again. With that in mind, Leeper says quite definitively in the video “There will be no game this year.”
All of this checks out, as WrestleMania weekend has been the place where the big 2K wrestling marketing push begins, almost like clockwork. Leeper goes on to discuss the falling out between Japanese studio Yukes, long-time collaborator with 2K Games on the franchise and the two company’s splitting from each other last year. Also of note in this video is the claim from Leeper that a different kind of WWE game in the form of a “pallet cleanser” will be coming this year and that the 2K franchise will skip the next-gen console jump for WWE 2K22 and stick around on the PS4 and XBox One.
Now, there are a lot of big claims in this video but Leeper has the credentials and connections to potentially prove true. Even potentially skipping a PS5 release is on-par for 2K Games, as the company did something similar when the PS4 generation came and the publisher still decided to make versions of that year’s iteration for the PS3.
Will any of this shake out? Only time will tell, but if it is false then 2K Games are on the clock. Its yearly Madden-esque release comes out every October like clockwork and with COVID-19 stopping some studios from even working it seems unlikely they’ll meet that deadline.