So while they were frothing at the collective starved mouths at these shiny images of Seth Rollins' torso, these people had erased something key from their memories. I, on the other hand, hadn't - I was still entrenched in the nonsense that 2K creates every year with their poor realisation of ideas. Why? I was trying to play WWE 2K17 online.
As much as we all love a shiny new screenshot, we should consider that fact that 2K has a terrible record of giving you the game that you want. Each year, in the previously mentioned wrestling league, we're treated to server issues from release. Usually, they're ironed out within the first few weeks, but this year has been particularly bad for connection issues. Matches will de-sync, if they even connect at all in a lot of cases, logos will vanish off of created wrestlers and once you're in a match that's working pretty well, you'll run into various weird glitches that, while hilarious, render the game "unwatchable".
Why is this important? Well for the league I play in, we record all of the matches and create actual wrestling shows with them. We do this on a weekly turnaround, which means deadlines to get these matches all recorded and put together within that timescale. It's quite an undertaking, and for years and years and years, people like us have been on the outskirts. If we venture into a 2K forum for instance to mention our concerns with the online aspects of the game, we're met with a blanket "who cares". It's a strange stance for a company that proclaims to be so community orientated. It makes sense why they do it, don't get me wrong, there are 50 "casual" players of this series for every one of me. A lot of people won't dive into the creation suites and mechanics as deeply as we do, but surely that's the very reason that they should at least attempt to listen to us? Well, that all depends on what they're trying to do here.
On one hand, if they're looking to create a great wrestling game, then listening to the people who have played these games to death for years, broken them apart, fixed them back together again and entrenched themselves in every single thing that encompasses them makes sense. On the other hand - this isn't a wrestling game you're playing.
WWE has been telling us for years that they are "Sports Entertainment". Now, wrestling fans know what that means, and they know that realistically, only one company is doing this style at the moment. That means it's unreasonable to think that 2K's remit is anything more than creating an arcade game with these larger than life TV characters. So why do they refer to it as a wrestling game? As a simulation? Well... this is something that happens in gaming an awful lot.
If you take FIFA for example - one of the most played games in the world. Considered to be the game of the gods when it comes to (casual) football game players. EA Sports calls FIFA a simulation, but if you really get into the crux of it, FIFA is an arcade game. It's very simple to get into, and it's simple to master - why? They want to sell games. If a game is too hard (see Crash Bandicoot's remaster) then they'll get a backlash and ultimately it's not a commercial success because it's too hard for the casuals.
So where does that leave us with 2K? For years, people have been saying we want to make a wrestling game that is "like WWF No Mercy", but it never materialises. This is because No Mercy was an incredibly complex game with a WWE skin on it. The WWE license nowadays doesn't stretch to this kind of complexity, because it calls for a yearly updated game. It calls for a game that the PG audience to which it pitches its product can get along with. The WWE license is based on selling copies, which is why we'll never get a beautifully rich game. It's a real shame because I love this series. I've put ten years of my life into a niche corner of the WWE Games community built around this series, and because of the people I play with, we're able to adapt the game to make it something that we can use to do what we do. It means that, fundamentally, we're a captive audience with no other place to really go (except for Fire Pro World, which is doing things right).
So right at the start of this, I said this wasn't a spiteful letter - it's a love letter to a game that I wish I (and my equivalents rattling around the doldrums of the WWE Games community) could have some sort of influence on improving, ultimately creating a game that the casual players and the competitive/e-fed players can enjoy as well. To use FIFA as an example again - they embrace all of their community, not just the casuals - I just wish 2K would do the same thing for the WWE Games...
...and fix the bloody servers, because I've got a match to turn in before Monday night.