It's Time for a Wrestling Video Gameby Rob Teet on 11/11/14
I’m a huge fan of video games, especially sports games. As much as I enjoy whooping some butt in baseball, basketball, and football, I have one sport missing from my video game collection. I don’t have any games based on wrestling. Sure, I have dozens of professional wrestling video games spanning multiple home consoles, but I don’t own any based on the sport of competitive international wrestling.
Wait a second, every sports fan is missing a video game based on competitive wrestling in their collection. Why? Because a wrestling game has never been made. Not even one. The video game industry has been around for over 40 years, and yet game developers have seemingly overlooked mankind’s oldest sport. Wrestling has never even been an Olympic-themed video game, including the more recent releases that were developed by 2k Sports and Sega.
Video game developers are in the business of making money, right? Wouldn’t it make sense for a video game company to capitalize on a sport that doesn’t have any other games competing against it? Even if the major gaming developers continue to pass up on this golden opportunity, why hasn’t a small-time developer attempted to make a wrestling game yet? Surely a smaller video game company can make a name for themselves if they help sports enthusiasts complete their library of sports-related video games.
Are we are missing something or has this truly just been an oversight by the video gaming community?
Perhaps the game developers have become too comfortable relying on the success of their current titles, pumping out a newer version each and every year. The Madden series by EA Sports, one of the most popular series of sporting games, typically sells more than 4 million copies of each game. Gamers in the United States are responsible for more than 90% of those sales. Shouldn’t a sport that is more popular around the world than NFL-style football, such as wrestling, sell more copies across the globe?
Yes, and it already does. The sales of EA Sports FIFA games consistently outsell the Madden games every year, based on worldwide sales. Gamers in the U.S. are only responsible for approximately 20% of those sales in the FIFA series. So the video gaming industry understands the importance of the global market.
With over 200 nations that offer competitive wrestling (evident by the fact that there are over 200 disciplines of “folk-style” wrestling, one for each nation), there is a worldwide market for a game featuring competitive wrestling. Wrestling is the number one sport in 6 counties, and one of the top 3 sports in another 23 countries (according to mostpopularsports.net). Add to that equation that wrestling is one of the top 10 sports in yet another 17 nations, and that brings the total number of countries in which wrestling is one of the most popular sports to 46, including the United States.
It may be unrealistic to make a game featuring every possible style of wrestling, but luckily we have the official international styles sanctioned by the United World Wrestling organization (UWW, formerly FILA) that brings the global wrestling community together. Focusing the gaming mechanics on freestyle, Greco-Roman and sand wrestling shouldn’t be difficult, as (in real life) most of the moves used in one style transitions well into the other styles. I’m not saying we should abandon the use of the more popular versions of folk-style wrestling (such as the scholastic style in the U.S.). Including those styles will increase the replay value of the game and allow for a better marketing plan directed at those countries, but promoting the main 3 versions of wrestling should be the logical approach to increase the chances of this type of game to be successful on a global scale.
Or perhaps another fishing game looks more appealing to video game developers than a wrestling game, despite that there are already 48 video games based on fishing.
Maybe it’s our own fault that there hasn’t yet been a wrestling game. An unfortunate truth is that most of us don’t go to a wrestling event unless we are wrestling or someone we know (like our kids) are competing. Developers don’t necessarily take a look at how many people compete in a sport, but how many spectators support a sport. Those figures can be very misleading for our sport, as it fails to take into account the number of wrestlers who retire before they hit their prime athletic years. Let’s be honest, most wrestlers retire after high school. Of those athletes that continue to wrestle, most of them retire after college. It doesn’t help that there is a lack of media and television coverage for wresting, but at least we have seen vast improvements in those areas in recent years.
Besides, what kind of statistics justifies the decision by video game developers to create a fishing video game? Ok, I’m going to lay off the fishing games. The purpose of this topic is to support the case for developers to finally deliver us a quality wrestling game, not to rip on another sport. After all, maybe I’m just fishing at the idea of a wrestling based game.
Instead, I’m going to alter the direction of this blog entry. How important is it for the wresting community to have a video game simulating the sport? For many young gamers and athletes, video games were their first introduction to sports. The NFL based games have done a wonderful job contributing the popularity of American football. It’s because of video games that I understand the rules to golf and tennis.
It’s great that the UWW has worked hard to improve wrestling’s image, but imagine how much easier it would be to accomplish that goal with a video game doing most of the work. A wrestling game would help teach people the rules of the sport, which could be an important tool in recruiting new athletes and spectators. Despite our best efforts, most of the general population just doesn’t understand how a wrestling match works. We may need this video game more that the gaming industry does, and it could prevent wrestling from possibly getting eliminated from the Olympic Games once again. If that ever happens, it will be nearly impossible to convince the IOC to keep wrestling in the Games.
Sure, developing video games can be an expensive risk from gaming companies, but there are ways to manage those risks. Crowdfunding sites have become a practical way for companies to generate initial capital for video games. I would imagine that securing a license from UWW is less expensive than the NFL, NBA, MLB, or FIFA. If UWW truly wants to expand their brand than I would strongly encourage them to even offer their logo, likeness and approval for free; it could pay huge dividends for them down the road. Star wrestlers from each country and style should also do the same, as it would help build their recognition status that could very well translate into more sponsorship and endorsement opportunities.
The time has never been better for a wrestling game to succeed than right now. We are still off the heels from the world uniting to keep wrestling in the Olympic Games, more coverage has been given to our sport, and even people who do not follow wrestling are getting excited for the release of the upcoming movie Foxcatcher. But we also need to help our own cause. Try to get out and watch a few more wrestling tournaments and dual meets. Get your butt to the theater and go see Foxcatcher. And if one is ever created and reasonable, support the crowdfunding effort for a wresting video game.
There is a very real possibility that a “UWW 16” game would outsell “Madden 16” globally. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that is could also outsell “FIFA 16” as well. For as long as we have been waiting for the very first wrestling game, it might have a chance to be the best selling sports video game of all time.
Well, maybe that’s a tough objective. After all Nintendo’s Wii Sports is the second best selling video game of all time, second only to Tetris. It’s improbable that a wrestling game might outsell any game that was bundled with a gaming system.
But it’s not impossible.