THQ Reboots WWE Franchise, Next Game Called WWE '12

THQ is laying the smackdown on its long-running wrestling franchise. Cory Ledesma, Creative Director for THQ, announced the WWE wrestling game series will be rebooted for its next release.

The series will no longer be called WWE Smackdown vs. Raw. Similar to Madden and other sports franchises, the next WWE game will simply be called WWE ’12.

The series is still being developed by the same team as previous games. Development for WWE ’12 began in May 2010. Ledesma said WWE ’12 will replicate the experience of WWE live events and its multiple television programs with faster gameplay and better character animations.

“I’ve just felt for a couple of years now that the franchise has been getting stale and in need of a reboot,” Ledesma said. “Not just with the name but also with the game experience.”

The series began on the PlayStation with WWF Smackdown! which released on March 2, 2000. The WWE RAW games on the original Xbox released Feb 12, 2002 and Sept. 15, 2003. The two series combined on Nov. 2, 2004 as WWF Smackdown vs. Raw exclusively on the PlayStation 2, to coincide with the WWE’s brand extension. The franchise went multiplatform in 2006 with WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007.

“This is a true franchise reboot and not just a name change,” Ledesma said. “It’s also an investment toward the future of the franchise, giving us the opportunity to use our new technology to push the game to new heights never seen before.”

The game will feature the new “Predator Technology,” allowing for better animations and more realistic matches. For example, players will be able to interrupt a wrestler in the middle of their move animation, where before this wasn’t possible because of technological limitations. Yuke’s Yokhama has been working on the new technology for two years.

The game also has new Breaking Point system for submission wrestling moves. WWE ’12 includes an improved Road to WrestleMania mode, which Ledesma recognized wasn’t as fun and entertaining in previous games as fans expected.

Players have complained for several years about issues like buggy gameplay and online lag in the series. Ledesma isn’t promising all the series’ problems would be immediately addressed and fixed in WWE ’12:

Just know that in some cases the reason you might not see changes happen as quickly as you like because there are some difficult development challenges or hurdles we are trying to overcome just like any other developer, but we’re committed and we’ll get there!

A singles match with four playable wrestlers (including one making their WWE game debut) will be available to check out during E3. WWE ’12 will release for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii sometime this fall. An official release date hasn’t been set. on Nov. 22 in North America, according to IGN. The current World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton is the lone Superstar on the game’s cover.

Check out the “trailer” for WWE ’12 (no actual gameplay is shown):

Photo by THQ