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Can WWE games make 2K Sports a video game champion again?

Rey Mysterio in WWE 12

The WWE wrestling video game series was one of the only properties in THQ’s stable that was helping keep the company afloat before it disintegrated in January. While companies like Sega, Ubisoft, and Koch Media swept in to buy up THQ’s stray studios like Saints Row creator Volition and licenses like South Park, the fate of the WWE game franchise has remained up in the air. On Wednesday, it was announced that Take-Two Interactive, parent company of 2K Sports, will take over the long-running franchise.

Polygon reported that, according to THQ bankruptcy filings, Take-Two and World Wrestling Entertainment came to an agreement to see the series brought under the 2K Sports banner. Japanese studio Yuke’s, whose history in wrestling games stretches all the way back 1995’s Power Move Pro Wrestling and continued with the WWE license starting in 2000 with WWF SmackDown!, will stay on as developer of future WWE games.

“We can confirm that we have entered into an agreement to publish the WWE video game series that is developed by Yuke’s,” said a Take-Two representative, “At this time, the agreement is pending court approval and we anticipate that it will be finalized shortly. We are very excited about the potential of this agreement and will have more to share at the appropriate time.”

2013 is proving an unusual year for Take-Two Interactive’s sports label. The NBA 2K series has been an earnings bedrock for the company, but its other sports endeavors have struggled against Electronic Arts’ monopoly of the sports game market. As of May 2012, it appeared that Take-Two would stop publishing the floundering MLB 2K series. “Our legacy Major League Baseball agreement will sunset in fiscal 2013,” a Take-Two representative told Kotaku in 2012, “At this time, we have no further comment.” Take-Two bucked expectations in January though, announcing MLB 2K13 for a spring release.

Part of the reason that Take-Two seemed poised to leave the MLB series behind is its miserable sales, just over 500,000 across PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2012, compared to the 850,000 sales on PS3 alone for Sony’s exclusive MLB: The Show ’12. The WWE series has also seen significant declines over the past five years, with its impact diminished in 2011 due to THQ ceasing publication of the series on PlayStation 2.

With Take-Two’s fortunes resting in Borderlands 2NBA 2K, and Rockstar Games productions, this renewed investment in the sports label is a wild card in the publisher’s future.

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