WWE 2K22 is just over the horizon, and so far there are a lot of positive signs about what's coming to the next installment in this franchise.
Unfortunately, lingering news about microtransactions threaten to overshadow any goodwill earned by upgrades in WWE 2K22.
WWE 2K22 poised for major improvements this year
In many ways, most of the news we've received about the development of WWE 2K22 points very positively towards a much better game than the franchise has seen for some time.
While there's definitely a diehard group of WWE gaming fans who remain dedicated to WWE 2K19, particularly usage of the game's Community Creations to add modern arenas and wrestlers to it, the game itself is not exactly perfect.
WWE 2K19 took on a sort of placeholder status and became retroactively viewed as significantly better due to the failure of WWE 2K20, which was particularly true as players enjoyed directly comparing the WWE 2K19 character models to those done for WWE 2K20.
That's the WWE gaming landscape that WWE 2K22 is getting ready to emerge into next year, and the tidbits of developmental information and leaks we've received have mostly been good news.
Just on the visual aspect, footage shown in the WWE 2K22 trailers so far has been light years ahead of WWE 2K20 and even feel like the proper step forward ahead of WWE 2K19 that many hoped to see visually from WWE 2K20.
GM Mode will return in WWE 2K22
For many fans, GM Mode could end up being the only part of WWE 2K22 that matters, especially if 2K Sports and Visual Concepts are able to deliver with the mode.
GM Mode has been out of WWE gaming for over a decade, only appearing in SmackDown vs. Raw 2006, 2007, and 2008 before being removed for the release of SmackDown vs. Raw 2009.
Since that removal, GM Mode has remained the most highly requested feature for upcoming WWE games, and the cult following around the mode even led WWE's own Austin Creed to do a series playing it on his gaming channel Up Up Down Down.
So far, signs look extremely positive, as numerous WWE 2K22 leaks have stated GM Mode will return in the upcoming game, with some sources stating that mode alone will be enough to sell the game.
It's high praise, and potentially worthy praise if the returning GM Mode manages to capture the challenge and fun of the original versions in a modern game.
WWE 2K22 could shift to Roster Updates over DLC packs
While it's the least certain of what we're currently hoping to see from WWE 2K22, a shift to Roster Updates was floated by sources in development when a batch of WWE releases ruined plans for a DLC pack of additional roster members.
Roster Updates have become a common system in basically every other major sports title, with everything from NBA 2K22 to UFC 4 using regular Roster Updates to add new players and adjust ratings when needed.
In past years, the WWE 2K gaming franchise has taken to introducing new roster members via separately purchasable DLC packs, or through a Season Pass which offers players all of those eventually released DLC packs.
WWE 2K22 could earn a lot of potential goodwill with fans by shifting to a Roster Updates system, and many players will be thrilled to know they'll get more WWE superstars on the roster at a later date without having to pay extra for them.
Microtransactions threaten to overshadow everything
These are all good things, but the most recent WWE 2K22 leak about microtransactions could come to dominate the conversation as launch approaches.
While WWE 2K22 won't be the first WWE title to utilize microtransactions, as they did feature in WWE 2K Battlegrounds, things look a bit different this time.
The cause for alarm has less to do with what we know about WWE 2K22 microtransactions, but instead it's fueled by uncertainty and the reality of how 2K handles them in other titles.
NBA 2K22 is their biggest culprit, and microtransactions have become an unavoidable piece of that title with many competitive players turning to funneling more money into the game for an advantage.
We don't know how VC (virtual currency) will be used in WWE 2K22, but we know from the leak that revealed their inclusion that massive amounts of VC are expected to be sold in bulk.
This has many players concerned about how the addition of VC could be used to leverage players into needing extra cash to get a competitive advantage in MyCAREER or some online game mode.
NBA 2K22 is actually a fantastic game in many ways, so much so that our review rated it 4.5 out of 5, but the obsession with pushing players towards spending money on microtransactions has overshadowed most of their next gen improvements this year.