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5 reasons why we’re worried about AEW Fight Forever

Is AEW's debut console game shaping up to be all elite or a massive botch?

Since AEW rose up in 2019 to be the first real alternative to WWE’s programming in close to two decades, wrestling fans foamed at the mouth for something new. However, tuning into a fresh weekly live show was far from where the excitement ended. From the early days of the WrestleMania arcade to the N64 classics to the SmackDown! series, pro-wrestling went hand-in-hand with video games. So, following the disastrous reception of WWE 2K20, fans craved an alternative on the gaming front as well. And that’s where AEW Fight Forever comes in.

Needless to say, wrestling fans around the world rejoiced at AEW’s announcement that they would develop a console game. Add in that wrestling game legends Yuke’s themselves would helm the development with WWF No Mercy director Hideyukia Iwashita involved as well, and it seemed like this game had all the ingredients to become an instant classic. After all, you’ve got to give the people what they want! Right?

Well, here we are, a couple years later. Yet, we have neither the actual game nor any substantial update on what content we can expect from it. Instead, we at least finally have a title. And the little teases of gameplay we actually got to see do no more than reveal wrestlers in the game who are so obvious that it would be more surprising if they weren’t in it.

Such a “massive” announcement to find out that one of AEW’s most prominent wrestlers made it into the game.

So, as the game’s future remains uncertain, here are five reasons you might want to be worried about AEW Fight Forever.

1. Kenny Omega admitted the game can’t compete with 2K22

Back in February, AEW wrestler and EVP Kenny Omega dropped one of the earliest warning signs about the upcoming game. In an interview with Wrestling Observer, the former World Champion stated that the AEW video game would not be able to compete with WWE 2K22’s graphics.

We’ll never be [able] to compete with the production value of WWE’s games. You look at 2K22; it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Kenny Omega

For a game that had very little marketing up to that point, Omega sure put in work to lower fans’ expectations, at least in the visuals department. On the other hand, Stanford’s sports entertainment company, along with publisher 2k, is actually back in good graces with fans. WWE 2K22 released in March to considerable praise from both fans and criticsa huge step forward from the reception its predecessor got.

Regardless, graphics aren’t everything in a game. At least if there’s enough interesting content to enjoy, then the gameplay can make up for the subpar visuals. Fortunately, Omega went on to explain in that interview that creating fun gameplay is the team’s primary focus. While WWE aims to center its games around realistic wrestling simulators, Omega states that AEW’s vision is to bring back the over-the-top arcade style of wrestling games from yesteryear.

… we just want the wrestling to feel like how it used to feel for the people who would play wrestling games back in the day.

Kenny Omega

That sounds really promising, right? I mean AEW has some fun match-types like Blood and Guts and Stadium Stampede that would feel right at home with fast-paced arcade mechanics. So, forget the visuals, we’re going to be in for a treat with all the content a wrestling fan can ask for in a game! Well, don’t get your hopes up there either.

2. Going over-budget is leading to cut content

No Mercy had the deepest story mode in any wrestling game with wins and losses that would determine branching paths

As of last September, AEW CEO Tony Khan already dumped over $10 million into Fight Forever. Fast forward to May 2022, and a report from SGO’s Michael Straw suggests multiple parties involved on the project complained that the title is “way over budget”. In addition, the game apparently also required an undisclosed amount of “extra investment”.

As a result of the spending frustrations tied to the game, the developers are stripping back many of its planned features. For the most part, the exact cut/limited features remain unknown, but it’s fair to speculate this could mean less match types and game modes. Possibly, the cut content could even bleed into the career mode, which many fans hoped would resemble No Mercy.

Still, there may be some hope in terms of content. In a June interview with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, Omega provided some further insight on the status of potentially cut content.

Some of the stuff we were worried might be on the cutting room floor is now getting implemented.

Kenny Omega

However, the vagueness of Omega’s phrasing utilizing the word “some” means we’ll likely still receive less than originally planned. Regardless, there is no confirmation on what games modes will be in the game, nor what match types will make the cut. Therefore, it really is hard to say whether we should be excited or concerned about AEW’s offering when it comes to content.

So, maybe we won’t end up with as much variety in terms of modes and match types, but surely AEW Fight Forever will feature an impressive roster that’s worth the cost of admission alone. Yeah, I think you know where this story’s going to go.

3. A watered-down roster could lead to DLC overload

One of the best things about AEW is its stacked roster. From its pre-established superstars like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, CM Punk and Bryan Danielson to its young homegrown stars like Darby Allin, Jungle Boy and MJF, AEW is packed with talent. As a result, you’d think a fair thing to anticipate in Fight Forever is a massive roster.

Well, unfortunately, it looks like the cut content trickles down to the roster as well. With over 100 wrestlers signed or tied to the company in some capacity, gamers can expect to play as… around 50, according to Fightful Select. However, AEW reportedly brought up post-launch DLC as a means to beef up the roster.

Tony Khan himself also elaborated further on DLC for AEW Fight Forever back in June. In an interview with Andreas Hale on The Corner Podcast, Khan discussed the status of the game’s roster. While he said the roster will be “great”, he also confirmed the company’s intentions to release regular DLC to add new wrestlers. In his statement, it’s also worth noting that Khan neither confirms nor denies the alleged roster count of 50.

So, we’ll have a great roster when we launch, and then we’ll still be able to add people through DLC as we go, but making sure we get the best possible roster when we start.

Tony Khan

In fact, the DLC plan has since become one of the major points of contention between AEW and Yuke’s. Reports suggest that AEW wants to push for a live-service model that sees this singular game receive updates through paid DLC. However, Yuke’s wants a clearer road map for developing future games.

For players, this especially spells a really disappointing scenario. What we may end up looking at is a severely incomplete title that locks fan-favorite wrestlers behind paywalls. Instead of getting a fully realized roster at launch, it seems like AEW wants to make up for the excessive development costs by using microtransactions to unlock characters.

4. Developers butting heads is never a promising sign

As a result, while Yuke’s continues to push for a multi-game contract, AEW is showing hesitation. This conflict between the two companies, according to some close to the development team, has people on both sides beginning to believe that the partnership is “one and done”. That’s because Yuke’s is holding off on committing to a DLC plan, while AEW holds back to commit to a longer term contract.

So when you add the financial problems with the overall disagreements in terms of the game’s direction, you’re left with a very unpleasant relationship between AEW and Yuke’s. And quite possibly nobody at AEW is more displeased than Kenny Omega.

According to Michael Straw’s report, Omega reportedly even stated he found himself “hating” working with Yuke’s. In addition, the Best Bout Machine also made claims that at times, it seemed as though Yuke’s was trying to “take advantage” of him.

However, it wouldn’t be fair to not address some of the most recent statements Omega made regarding Yuke’s. In the Fightful interview from June, Omega actually showered Yuke’s with praise for their hard work.

In addition, Omega also opened up to the fact that he and the development team did in fact hit some roadblocks around the way. Yet, the uplifting spirit in his statement appears to convey things may finally be moving in the right direction.

It got to a point where it seemed bleak, and maybe we would never release this thing. But we kind of got past that, and with the go-getters at Yuke’s and the guys on our side and Geta [Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashita] and his old contacts that have hopped on board and helped push us to the finish line, we hopefully can be on schedule to make sure we get this game out by this year.

Kenny Omega

Whether Omega’s publicly positive sentiment towards the developers reflects his private feelings is unconfirmed. However, it’s also unconfirmed whether his reported frustrations with Yuke’s are real or not. Either way, the uncertainty still breeds trepidation when heading into the game from a consumer standpoint.

Yet, the reported lack of cohesion between parties involved on AEW Fight Forever still isn’t the pending game’s biggest red flag.

5. We’ve seen almost no gameplay so far

Instead, the largest sign that we should get worried about AEW Fight Forever is the severe lack of gameplay footage. At this point, we may be more likely to finally see John Cena (or a picture of him that isn’t overflowed with comments about his invisibility) than ever get a proper gameplay demo. But the lack of tangible content shown off wouldn’t be a big deal if there was still plenty of time for the game to cook in the oven.

Yeah, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

All reports suggest that AEW still has its sights set on a 2022 release date, with multiple rumors going so far as to say it will launch in September. Omega even confirmed that he wants the game to come out this year in his most recent statement.

So, if we really can expect to get our hands on AEW Fight Forever before the year’s up, why haven’t we seen a full gameplay demo? Sure, we had a few roster reveals, which I’ll link below. But that’s the extent of footage we’ve actually seen from this game.

At this point, we have zero inkling as to what matches we can play, what the career mode will be like, or anything else in terms of real content. For the most part, we pretty much have the same amount of information on the game as when it was first announced. In fact, here is the entirety of released gameplay footage we actually got to see up to this point.

And that’s all folks.

Concluding thoughts about AEW Fight Forever

Look, I know I may come off as extremely cynical in this article. As a lifelong wrestling fan, AEW’s skyrocket into becoming the second biggest wrestling promotion rekindled the fire that is my passion for the sport. So, believe me, I want nothing more than to be wrong.

I want AEW Fight Forever to succeed. For that reason, I can’t help but be disappointed by both what I see and don’t see when it comes to this game.

For now, however, here’s what we know. AEW Fight Forever will release for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC. In addition, Kenny Omega confirmed that THQ Nordic will be the game’s official publisher. He also added that even with his recent move to WWE, Cody Rhodes will remain part of AEW’s video game.

So, what are your thoughts on the upcoming AEW Fight Forever? Are you worried about the promotion’s first video game? Or do you still feel optimistic? As always, let us know your thoughts down in the comments!

Sam Fronsman

A writer with a love for video games, both new and old. A collector of games, CDs and DVDs. Can sometimes be found behind a camera or playing guitar. The X-Men games for SEGA Genesis will always hold great memories.
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