Japanese developer Yuke’s has been developing wrestling games for over two decades, most notably through their partnership with the WWE for the WWE 2K series. But in a recent interview with Video Games Chronicle, senior vice president and producer Hiromi Furuta says Yuke’s has become frustrated with its achievements, and is looking to some interesting new methods to promote innovation.
"We are trying to launch a new wrestling game," Furuta told VGC. "Of course, we will retain the WWE team, but we are also aware that our creators are beginning to lose sight of their passion and confidence and becoming focused only on completing assigned tasks. That's not the direction Yuke’s wants to go in. So, in order to compensate, we're going to start a new wrestling project."
The exclusive nature of Yuke's contract with the WWE has meant former competitors like AKI Corporation have left the space, leading to stagnation. Furuta suggested to VGC that its relationship with 2K Sports is partly responsible for that, but also, she says that "players are expecting something new every time we release a game and we feel like we haven't achieved what we've really wanted to do."
Furuta cites technology like ALiS Zero as a way for the company to innovate. ALiS is real-time motion capture tech, based on Yuke's work on the WWE 2K games. It's been used for a number of live augmented reality performances in Japan, and Furuta seems optimistic about its prospects for a wrestling game to rival WWE 2K.
This new IP will be a rival wrestling game, and while Furuta says they will retain the WWE team, she says the new project is at a very early stage. The studio will also continue its partnership with the WWE 2K series, though it's unknown how 2K feels about its developer creating its own competition.
The 2K series has struggled with issues in the past, including a shoddy Nintendo Switch port of 2K18. While an odd move, perhaps creating a nemesis to keep raising the bar is better than what Furuta describes as creators "losing sight of their passion and confidence" and "becoming focused only on completing assigned tasks."