Will THQ Step out of the WWE Ring?

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THQ has been making WWE games for some time now and their partnership with JAKKS Pacific has brought some of the best video game versions of wrestling we have ever seen. But is this partnership ready to splinter?

It seems that THQ has not re-upped the license with WWE according to a recent investor alert which stated that it has been notified by World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. that the WWE has extended the renewal notice deadline for the videogame license held by the joint venture between THQ and JAKKS Pacific, Inc. to December 31, 2009.

So it sounds like a deadline was missed on the renewal and that the WWE is interested in continuing cooperation, but is THQ? The renewal would extend the license through December 31, 2014 meaning another five years of THQ published WWE titles. Since they’ve been doing yearly updates of the WWE Smackdown vs. RAW since 2006 and WWE games in general since 2001, it only seems right that they would continue. They also brought us the WWE Legends of Wrestlemania title which I personally thought was cool. 

The games certainly seem to sell well enough with WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2010 showing up in the #5 spot last week in the UK, where one would think that American professional wrestling wouldn’t be so popular. So what’s the hold up on renewing the license?

It could be something as simple as THQ trying to reorganize their approach or it could be something as complex as money, which always gums up the works.

What happens if THQ doesn’t renew? Who takes over the license? Well, I could see EA pulling it into the fold but I’m not sure they would do the titles the justice that THQ has done. EA Sports have always been more realistic while professional wrestling in general is more on the fantastic side of life. Big personalities, bigger egos, big moves and astounding feats of athleticism. I mean, personally I don’t think I’d jump from the top of a 15-foot cage to drop an elbow on someone. But, EA is already working on an MMA title and taking on a pro wrestling title doesn’t sound like such a stretch suddenly.

What about 2K sports? They’ve certainly got their finger on the pulse of sports games and could probably do up the franchise with good results. Activision has some sports success with Tony Hawk and could branch out into the squared circle probably with some flair (not the Nature Boy Ric Flair).  They have a sort of extreme games vibe going. Or perhaps it could go to a studio completely untested in the 3D sports games that WWE have become over that last five years.

Of course this is all speculation and depends entirely on if THQ decides to take on the franchise for another five years. THQ noted that WWE’s action provides the company with increased flexibility with respect to the renewal of the videogame license. It seems we’ll find out by year’s end the fate of the WWE video game franchise license. This is almost as exciting as that time on WWE when we didn’t know if that car had truly killed Stone Cold or...er... nothing, nevermind.

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