THQ, Jakks WWE royalty fight drags on

Publisher's PR department declares a victory, but arbitration process with toy maker still awaits.

The success of the WWE is fueled by conflict and drama, so it seems appropriate that the company's game license is marked by the same.

Since 1999, the right to turn the wrestling organization's in-ring action into interactive brawlers has been held by a joint venture of THQ and toy maker Jakks Pacific. But like many of the tag teams in the WWE's storied past, the union has been as volatile and contentious as it has been successful. WWE has twice sued the THQ-Jakks joint venture seeking to have its licensing agreement terminated, all while the game and toy companies have been locked in their own dispute over royalty rates on WWE games.

The latest example comes today as THQ touted a victory in its royalty dispute against Jakks after the California Court of Appeals denied one of the toy maker's petitions. THQ claims Jakks has been delaying arbitration on the matter and had recently petitioned the court to disqualify all but one of a slate of arbitrators considered by the judge to handle the dispute. That petition was denied, prompting THQ to announce that the arbitration process is moving forward.

In a post-earning conference call last month, Jakks Pacific CEO Jack Friedman told analysts that the arbitration process had been slowed for a number of reasons. However, he expressed confidence that the company would emerge from the dispute unscathed.

"From Jakks Pacific point of view, we're not at all nervous about it," Friedman said. "We think we're in a wonderful position and all of the economics are lined up that we should continue to get at least--if not more of--the same rates than we've been getting in the past."

As for the future of the WWE license, Friedman said he hoped to have one of the wrestling company's lawsuits resolved by May. Friedman also noted that Jakks' recent loss of the WWE toy license--Mattel will begin making action figures based on the brand in 2010--does not include the game license, which he said was locked up "for quite some time."

That could put Jakks in the position of making games for WWE while making action figures for its primary rival, TNA Wrestling, as the toy maker last month signed that brand's rights starting in 2010. The upstart TNA would be in a similar position of competing with itself on different fronts, as Midway Games debuts its TNA games by the end of June.

THQ referenced the Jakks conference call in its announcement, saying that some unspecified comments in the call about the economics of the joint venture did not reflect its own assessments.

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Discussion

26 comments
Irve
Irve

Pah .. just play fire pro of King of Coluseum 2 and create WWF look a likes I also hope that the TNA game turns out to be good ... they need something to force tehm to improve the current WWF game as it's not changed since the PSone days

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Yes...continue to fight...so AKI can eventually return to developing WWE games from now on! *insert evil laugh here* :twisted:

Darth_DuMas
Darth_DuMas

Man im just hoping they get the Rumored No Mercy N64 (THQ's last good wrestling game) Remake (new roster and updated look) on the VC, if it happens, before the licence thing gets too crazy.

zhane12
zhane12

The only good smackdown game was "Here comes the pain".

woods0419
woods0419

Regardless of everything, the WWE games have been completely terrible.

tbolt_88
tbolt_88

Lets hope TNA Impact! turns out good so I could stop caring about WWE Smackdown. Ive already stopped caring about most of WWEs programming and im more liking TNA so im hoping the game does the same for me.

Rocco_Funny
Rocco_Funny

I am sick and tired of this battle. I mean, hell, i play through every new wrestling game, and lately ive been pulling my teeth out. My bet is that they didnt put any effort *well they obviously didnt* just cause of this. As far as EA getting WWE rights... PRAY TO GOD THEY DONT. Every game is rehash crap, and it would only get worse. Thq has put themselves in a hole, i just hope it doesnt go to ea, and if thq stays on, that they get their head out of their ****

theone86
theone86

Well, they've probably already started development on 2009, so I wouldn't get your hopes up for this year. They have a fairly playable build by Mania each year, which is only a few weeks away. My solution: Bring back DOR. That game had so much going for it. For all the customization options that SVR has over DOR's CAW, whenever I ran into a spot where I was like, "man I wish I could do this," I could go on DOR and do just that. DOR's CAE tops any Smackdown CAE, the HIAC is more true to life, the move animations look better, there are more moves available and more obscure moves, the counters work better, and there's just a whole other level of control instead of SVR's constant cutscenes. The only place where DOR is lacking is content and greater customization.

StaticPlayer
StaticPlayer

Even WWE realizes Smackdown Versus Raw is a stale played out franchise now. That is why WWE wants out of this agreement and just maybe the next wrestling game would be better.

clawboy
clawboy

All I want is to play SmackDown vs. Raw. With all of the money that both sides are making why can't they just work this out instead of spending several years and several millions of dollars on lawyer fees going back and forth in endless trials.

-DirtySanchez-
-DirtySanchez-

i just went a wrestlin game made by AKi again, when the hell are ppl gonna learn, they will sell and they will sell big

gary_safc
gary_safc

i wont EA to own the licence because then we can expect better gameplay hopfully and definatly online play on all platforms plus super fast servers which means no lagg.... comon ea

wwonka666
wwonka666

EA will ultimately end up with the WWE Licence by buying THQ, they are in serious trouble now that they have lost the Disney franchise licences and their motorcycle and wrestling games will fit in nicely with EA Sports. Pretty Soon we will only have four major publishers. EA, Vivendi-Activision, Konami and Capcom all the others will be absorbed into one of these brands. Trust me on this one, and when all of our rights and freedoms have been taken away, none of this will matter anyway because we will all be more worried about where our next meal is coming from then playing lights on screens.

NightRain
NightRain

Am I the only one that thinks that the WWE games needs a big change?

SonicRaptor
SonicRaptor

This drama needs to stop, I'm getting tired of WWE/THQ/Jakks slapping one another over trivial nonsense. I'm all for someone else to get the WWE license because THQ has proven they don't care about making the games worthwhile anymore. I just don't want to see it as a result of pointless bickering like this.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Time for them to hold a no-holds barred cage match in order to settle this.

DudasPriest
DudasPriest

I agree No Mercy was the best wrestling game ever. The Smackdown series needs to be kicked and something new created.

omrikk87
omrikk87

perhaps now we will see any company taking this license (video game) , and starting something new , the fans and gamers want something new , and with next gen physics,graphics and sound ,we could have a very good game , i dont hate THQ\Jakks , i just want to see something different after all those years , especially to the 360\ps3...

JackfnBurton
JackfnBurton

There's only one way to settle this. HELL IN A CELL. That's right, a no holds barred ladders, tables and chairs match complete with barbed wire, carpet tacks and an electrified steel cage. Jack Friedman versus Vince McMahon. Two men enter, one man leaves. On PPV this summer!

bubnux
bubnux

Warlypwnage "WWF No Mercy for n64 is still the best wrestling game. If these companies would stop bickering and focus on quality products we would be playing better games." You couldn't be more right, No Mercy was easily the best wrestling ever, I still play it all the time. All they need to do is port it to the DS and include WiFi support and we have a new champ.

Warlypwnage
Warlypwnage

WWF No Mercy for n64 is still the best wrestling game. If these companies would stop bickering and focus on quality products we would be playing better games.

dkidfrmdbx
dkidfrmdbx

i agree the games definitely have to become better and the best had to be here comes the pain it was simply the most fun

quickhhh
quickhhh

this is really getting old

theone86
theone86

Nice, first first post! I just hope the games get better. I haven't liked SVR very much since Here Comes the Pain.