December 20, 2012
Amidst bankruptcy news, THQ brings the Attitude back in WWE '13
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
It's a cruel twist of fate sometimes in the journalism world. The day you launch a story, the whole subject gets turned on its ear. Such is the case with my intended story about THQ.
Not too long ago, I was on a phone call with Senior Game Designer Bryan Williams to talk about WWE '13, the latest incarnation in a video game series that dates back further than my dozen years at SLAM! Wrestling. I've always enjoyed chatting with the guys and girls at THQ and this year was no different, as you'll see further down in this article.
Thursday was publication day for my interview with Williams, with my review of WWE '13 to follow soon thereafter; but the events of today - the announced bankruptcy of THQ threw everything off course.
But this is the reality of the journalism world, as I've learned over the years -- stories need to be altered, get bumped or are cancelled outright. News doesn't stop just because there's a publishing deadline.
Before I go into the story of WWE '13, let me preface that at this point THQ is stil alive. As Jason Rubin, President of THQ Inc. pointed out in a posting on THQ's website today, companies go in and out of bankruptcy. It's the reality of being in business.
At this time, the status of WWE and THQ's relationship is unclear (the same release did not denote the status of the coveted wrestling license), but until we hear more news -- and rest assured SLAM! Wrestling will provide you with continuing coverage of the THQ bankruptcy proceedings and potential takeover by Clearlake Capital Group -- for now all we can do is continue to pop our favourite game discs into our consoles, sit back, relax, and play until our heart's content.
Here now is my interview with Bryan Williams of THQ.
When WWE and THQ announced WWE ’13, there was an unmistakable excitement that the game, while moving forward, was also going back in time -- to the days of the Attitude Era.
Unmistakably, one of the biggest draws for fans, particularly long-time followers of the video game series who have been on the trail since the days of WrestleMania 2000 on Nintendo 64, is the return to many of the superstars of yesteryear who were part of that original platform. Upgraded considerably from those days are the likes of Mankind, Ken Shamrock and X-Pac.
The concept of mixing in the Attitude Era with the current WWE roster, as Senior Game Designer Bryan Williams explains, came from within.
“The idea was spawned from the guys here at THQ,” Williams says. “All of us on the team are wrestling fans -- you have to be to work on this game year-in and year-out -- and we all had an affinity for the Attitude Era.”
Part of the inspiration for bringing back the Attitude Era spawned from the need to innovate the season path, as Williams explains.
“When we sat down to brainstorm production for WWE ’13, our original plan was to go forward with the Road to WrestleMania that we had in ’12. We had to address a lot of criticisms that were in that year’s game,” he remarks. “During the course of trying to spec out and figure out what we’re going to do, we kind of just thought along the idea of doing something completely different. In our discussions, the idea of revisiting the Attitude Era came to the forefront. From there, we said it was a great idea and started to plug away.”
The next step, of course, was to address licensing. Not every Superstar and Diva from the era, of course, is currently under contract with WWE. Williams sheepishly admits that on his side, all he and the team had to do was map out who they needed for the Attitude Era mode to be successful, then it was up to the legal team to get all the Superstars into the game.
“Some were more easy to sign than others,” Williams admits, “but at the end of the day we pretty much got everyone we requested. For us, it’s been a dream come true.”
But was there anyone that THQ was unable to secure for WWE ’13?
“We picked all the matches and events we wanted to include in the mode. From that, we were able to cull all the Superstars we needed for those moments,” Williams comments. “For everything we planned and sought to do, we got everyone we needed. Obviously, there are some guys and gals from the Attitude Era that a lot of people remember -- Chyna being one of them -- that I regularly get comments on my Twitter page about.
“For obvious reasons, we kind of shied away from her (Chyna’s) involvement with the porn industry right now, but by and large we got everyone we needed to support the mode.”
The reaction to the game, of course, is the end spot for all conversations about the Attitude Era, and as Williams remarks, it has been overwhelmingly positive.
“From all the conversations I’ve had with fans, whether it’s in person or reading my Twitter page and message boards, the inclusion of the Attitude Era has been met with resounding success. A lot of people are loving the mode.”
Of course, the Attitude Era has dominated conversations but it’s hardly the only feature upgrade for WWE ’13. Williams pointed out a couple of his favourites:
Jon Waldman's involvement with SLAM! Wrestling goes back to the Attitude Era, and his love of video games goes back further than that.