After botching the release of WWE 2K20, how can 2K Games change course and avoid making those same mistakes with WWE 2K22?
Fortunately, the first correct step they made was cancelling WWE 2K21 and giving the development team more time to work.
While fans were disappointed to go without the standard WWE installment for the year, they have a chance to make that extra time finally pay off with the release of WWE 2K22.
So what do we need to see?
WWE 2K22 needs to go back to basics
First and foremost, the focus needs to be on consistent and enjoyable gameplay. WWE 2K20 taught us that more than anything.
It wasn't a lack of features that led to the downfall of WWE 2K20. Instead, an extremely flawed and bug-filled game had a disastrous launch.
While it wasn't the only thing the game got wrong, fans would've been more willing to overlook or excuse other issues with more consistent gameplay.
Fortunately, that seems to be something they understand already. 2K Games brought on Patrick Gilmore as Executive Producer of the WWE 2K series going forward, and he discussed the development focus in a Reddit Q&A from May of 2020.
Gilmore detailed the importance of core gameplay at length, and this looks to include both making the best system possible and making sure it works as intended.
Pretty doesn't mean perfect
One of the downfalls of making a game which is essentially a simulation of something happening in reality is the tendency to get too stuck on perfect accuracy.
While fans want the game to look good, that doesn't mean things have to be absurdly perfect or precise. WWE 2K20 whiffed when it came to graphics, and felt like a step down compared to previous versions.
However, that shouldn't be such a knock as long as things work and look good overall. While they can hopefully utilize the graphics capabilities of next-gen consoles, things don't need to look like a perfect replication of reality.
Instead, 2K Games needs to have more emphasis on consistency between models in the game and making sure things interact as intended. It doesn't matter how accurate something looks if it doesn't work properly.
Quality over quantity
It's always a good rule of thumb to strive for quality over quantity, and that continues to ring true as 2K Games takes aim at WWE 2K22.
The two big places where this comes into play are the size of the game's available roster and the amount of additional features and game modes that are included in the final product.
READ MORE: WWE 2K20 Complete Unlockables Guide
Ideally, fans are going to want the most extensive roster that 2K Games can possibly put together. That challenge is more difficult then ever as WWE continues to add talent across multiple brands.
It would be great to have all of the names from 205 Live, NXT UK, and even lesser NXT superstars on the roster, but that can't come at the expense of overall gameplay and the quality of those models.
With 2K Games needing to prove themselves to fans after the failure of WWE 2K20, a tighter roster selection wouldn't be a failure as long as those that are included live up to expecations.
Leave the creations to the community
One of the unique things 2K Games tried to do with WWE 2K20 was introducing the new WWE 2K20 Originals mode. While enjoyable, pretty much all of this was cosmetic.
They released several DLC packs with new themed outfits for a handful of in-game characters, new arenas, and some other create-a-superstar pieces that fit the theme of that particular WWE 2K20 Originals pack.
Unfortunately, as fun and exciting as some of these included pieces were, so many fans were turned off by the glitchy and flawed gameplay that they never got to see them.
WWE 2K22 needs a focus on the creation suite, but it would be better suited improving the overall quality of things and leaving the creativity to the fans.
WWE 2K Community Creations have been one of the highlights of the series in recent years, as players have gone through and created just about every real-life wrestler and fictional character imaginable.
If WWE 2K22 just focuses on making sure the pieces are there for fans to work with, the WWE 2K Community Creations will pick up the slack and make plenty of their own unique superstars and arenas.