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Looking at WWE '13, seven weeks later

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.GamingWrestleManiaWiiAmazon.com Inc.PlayStation 3

WWE '13 has now been made available to the public for a month-and-a-half. Fans and gamers alike have been able to play, digest and dissect the title, compare it to previous releases and make a wish list for future releases.

Creative director Cory Ledesma is pleased with the release.

“I think the main takeaway is that we’re extremely pleased and happy with how the product turned out," Ledesma said. “We really put our blood sweat and tears this year into WWE '13. We really wanted to hit a home run. I think as a team we’re all just very happy and relieved that it’s seen so much success.”

The game is driven by the new Attitude Era campaign, where nostalgic players are able to relive some of WWE's most important moments in arguably its most successful period. Ledesma was the one who came up with the concept.

“I don’t want to take all the credit for it, but I was definitely a big proponent of it and pushing for it very hard," he said. "We met with our design staff and we talked about it for a bit and we really just talked about taking a fresh approach with our single player campaign. We thought, what a perfect opportunity if we’re going to take a different direction, let’s relive some great past history and maybe tell the story from point and let the player live those great moments that happened in WWE history. I think it was just a no-brainer that it was going to be the Attitude Era that was a beloved time in WWE history. It’s still very popular, it’s still talked about today, it’s still looked back on with very fun memories and a lot of the superstars that were really cutting their teeth at that point and really making a name for themselves are still relevant now. So it had a nice crossover tie to it that we liked so we thought it’s kind of a natural fit.”

Senior game designer Bryan Williams, who calls Ledesma “boss,” said the change was a good one, and nobody seems to miss the “Road to WrestleMania” mode.

“I’ve read every review that Jaime Jensen, our lovely PR director, has sent us, and I haven’t read one that laments the fact that Road to Wrestlemania has been removed," he said. "It seems to be that everyone’s enjoying the Attitude Era and a lot of the excitement as far as seeing ... what we could do possibly in the future.”

Speaking of change, Williams thinks there was a lot that was needed after the release of WWE '12.

“I thought WWE '12 was a solid game, but it definitely had its issues; chief among them being that it wasn’t as polished as I would have liked and I know I’m not the only one on the team that feels this way,” Williams said. “I think going from '12 to '13, one of the things top things in my mind that I wanted to address was to really focus on increasing the polish of the game, making the game play a little more tighter than it was, eliminate a lot of the pesky bugs, and obviously there’s going to be bugs in any game that comes out, but '12 had its fair share. So my big focus was putting a lot more effort on the polish and making sure that what we give to the players is much more solid and overall just kind of a more satisfying game-play experience. And I think we did that in spades with WWE '13."

One of the driving forces in keeping the game fresh is the downloadable content. Last week, several new WWE Superstars were made available to be downloaded and played in the game, as well as with costumes. There is another DLC release that Ledesma says will come out either late this year or early next year.

“I really think it keeps the product fresh all year long. You can simply go online every month and you’re gonna see new characters updated, whether it’s a gear change, whether it’s a new superstar, and really DLC, we have packs released 90 days after release or maybe 60 days sometime within that window," he said.

For long-time wrestling fans, one of the more intriguing stories has been the involvement of Paul Heyman as a writer and creative consultant for the game.

“Paul has some connections with our marketing guy Bryce Yang," Ledesma said. " They’ve connected before in the past and they have a relationship so we were able to contact Paul and see if he was interested in working with us and we were really interested in working with him regarding our universe stories and just to pick his brain and get some of his creative genius looking at our title and asking questions and bouncing ideas off of him. What’s really cool is we had this relationship before he even started to appear on WWE television again as Brock Lesnar's guy and CM Punk’s mouthpiece, and so what’s been really great is that he’s a huge fan of the series. Getting just the psychology of wrestling and how things are booked and why they are really adds this nice level of authenticity in the game that can’t be found anywhere else.”

While there is no official word if Heyman will be involved with WWE '14, Ledesma and the THQ family would welcome him back with open arms.

“I think that even though he’s one the road and even though he’s busy, he’s a guy that has his hands in a lot of different places and is a worker," Ledesma said. "He’s got a lot of things going on, so I don’t think he has any problem being able to support us, and he’s just one phone call away to ask advice. We really appreciate his support and his willingness to help us out and we hope it’s a partnership for several years to come.”

Though the game is only a little more than a month old, fans are already speculating what will come of WWE '14. While Ledesma wouldn't let the cat out of the bag, he did not rule out the possibility that the Attitude Era would return in the franchise.

“That’s something that fans have kinda been speculating on, whether we’re gonna do a part two or whether we can kind of continue down that time period," he said. "We always like to kick around as many ideas as possible just to see what we think is gonna be a fun experience and a fresh experience, I think the door’s wide open for anything. We could continue down this historic path and have you relive these moments, or maybe we take a totally different approach. We don’t want to neglect the fact that we’ve had so much success with WWE 13 and with the Attitude era, but I think we’re gonna weigh that success with how can we deliver something fresh and see what makes sense, and maybe that’s Attitude Era part two. I don’t want to rule that out or maybe something totally different that fans aren’t kind of expecting. I think they’ll just kind of have to wait and see until we’re closer to announcing more game details on WWE 14.”

According to vgchartz.com, as of Dec. 1 of this year WWE '13 has sold approximately 500,000 units each on XBOX 360 and Playstation 3, and another 60,000 on Nintendo Wii. Roughly half of those sales came in the first week of release (Oct 30 – Nov 5). For holiday shoppers, starting Dec. 9, Target and Amazon are launching a $10 off price promotion for the game.

Arda Ocal interviewed several WWE Superstars surrounding the release of WWE '13 and DLC packs.

RYBACK

CM PUNK

STONE COLD” STEVE AUSTIN

PAUL HEYMAN

AJ LEE

MICK FOLEY

AT WWE '13 MEDIA EVENT

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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