I am a fanatic of the WWE 2K series. The presentation is beautiful, the wrestler models are (usually) spot on, and the creative features are a fun time sink. Since its launch last year, WWE 2K16 has been one of, if not my most, played title for my PlayStation 4. Simply put, I loved this past year’s installment. With that being said, I waited in gleeful anticipation as I knew my favorite wrestler, NXT’s Shinsuke Nakamura, would be in the following year’s game.
Well, to my delight, Nakamura is in this year’s WWE 2K17, but there is a catch. This year, the folks behind WWE 2K17 have a special 100 USD edition called the ‘NXT Edition’. In this edition you get a handful of items including a mini statue, a trading card, an autographed print, and the thing that spurred this discussion, the NXT Enhancement pack.
In the NXT Enchancement pack you receive an XP boost for the MyCareer mode and the wrestlers Apollo Crews, Nia Jax, and the immensely popular Shinsuke Nakamura. This pack of wrestlers will not be available until later in the year as purchasable DLC. This is where I run into the roadblock in my support of the WWE 2K series.
Nakamura is easily one of the biggest stars in the WWE and he has taken NXT by storm. This is a wrestler that constantly sells out in terms of merchandise and sends the Orlando-based crowds at NXT shows into frenzies when his entrance music hits. In short Nakamura is a bonafide superstar and stripping him out of the game to help sell the 100 USD version of the game feels scummy.
Now many come to the defense of 2K Games by saying that superstars that don’t debut before Wrestlemania weekend don’t make the cut, but will sometimes come as later DLC. If this was the case, and he was coming later, I wouldn’t be agitated about this. In reality, Nakamura debuted Wrestlmania weekend, but will be available only to those at launch who bought the NXT edition. Yes, maybe Nakamura’s inclusion was started a bit later than other superstars on the roster, but the fact is that he will be finished up in time to be available to those who bought the 100 USD edition. This simply feels like they sectioned off one of the most popular wrestlers in the company to help push units of the more expensive game SKU.
Yes, I understand that 2K Games is a business and they have to make money, but this just feels like a grimy way to do so. They even are releasing a digital deluxe edition that will not feature this pack of wrestlers, to further push the NXT edition. Again, using Nakamura’s fame to sell units.
There was an immediate push back when this was announced as the comments of many sports and video game websites were filled with negative remarks of holding Nakamura, Jax, and Crews back. Commenters called the move a “slap in the face”, 2K “ruining the series”, and shifting the game from a “must-buy to a must-avoid.”
Like I alluded to earlier, for hours upon hours I played WWE 2K16 in anticipation and utter excitement to get my hands on 2K17 to play with an officially made Nakamura. With the news of him, and two others, being behind a paywall, my excitement did diminish a little bit. I’m sure when it’s all said and done, I’ll enjoy the product that is 2K17, but starting it out on a sour note with one of wrestling’s biggest current names was not a smart route to take.