THQ wrangling up new WWE franchise

Publisher confirms "more friendly, easier, and less simmy" installment based on wrestling license will arrive in 2011.


WWE Smackdown vs. Raw Online
WWE All Stars

After years of bickering and infighting over the World Wrestling Entertainment license, THQ and Jakks Pacific called it quits at the end of last year. However, that didn't mark the end of THQ's involvement with the WWE, as the publisher signed a new, eight-year exclusivity deal to continue making games based on the wrestling entertainment organization's properties. And thus far, THQ appears as if it will be maximizing its use of the license.

WWE All Stars isn't all THQ is cooking up.
WWE All Stars isn't all THQ is cooking up.

In an interview with CVG posted today, THQ core games CEO Danny Bilson confirmed that his company has yet one more WWE-themed wrestling game to announce for release in 2011. As with WWE All-Stars, which is also slated for a 2011 release, the game will apparently be more of an arcade-style brawler.

"Next year you'll see another new extension there in another way--that's just as exciting as All Stars, but a little different," Bilson said. While Bilson went on to explicitly note that the studio isn't yet talking about the new game, he did say that the new franchise will be "more friendly, easier, and less simmy than SmackDown vs Raw."

As for timing, Bilson's comments were less than clear. According to the executive, THQ would be releasing "an alternate SKU every six months." With All Stars and the new property thus announced for 2011, it is unclear whether the publisher intends to release a new installment in its flagship SmackDown vs. Raw franchise next year. THQ had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

Bilson's comments come alongside confirmation that Western gamers will probably not be afforded access to WWE SmackDown vs. Raw Online, which was announced for the Asian market in February. "[SmackDown vs. Raw Online] is for Asia," Bilson said. "I don't think there's any chance of that coming to the US or Europe, not soon anyway. We don't want to confuse SmackDown vs. Raw [the brand] with that online free-to-play game."

"That's a big, expensive title, SmackDown vs. Raw," he went on to note. "We will not do any cannibalization of it at all. The online game is also designed uniquely for Asian playing habits and it would probably have to be modified creatively to bring it to the West." Notably, at the same time THQ announced WWE SmackDown vs. Raw Online, the publisher also said that it would be bringing Company of Heroes Online, a similarly Asia-only free-to-play online game, to the Western markets.

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