"Finalizing the roster is probably the hardest part of working on this game," he confirms. "As you say, our roster has to be finalized by a certain date, so that leaves five or six months before release. And with the WWE, you never know who's gonna be there, who's in, who's out.
"The one thing that we don't want is for our game to be released with an outdated roster. We try our best to mitigate that but sometimes it's just circumstances beyond our control."
Williams wouldn't be drawn on whether any characters from the recently relaunched ECW (such as Sabu and Sandman) will appear in the game - although it seems unlikely. "I really can't go into too many specifics about that," he says, "but I will say that there will be more news in the coming months about all that. All your questions on that front will be answered."
As for whether there are plans for a separate ECW game, suffice to say that Williams doesn't deny it. "Mum's the word! Stay tuned to THQ - there's more information coming on that."
Williams is equally noncommittal as to whether this year's game will make use of the tilt functionality of the PS3 controller. But, again, he doesn't rule it out. "It's still up in the air at this point. I pretty much can't say more than that right now. [SmackDown! developer] Yuke's is looking at the technology and finding ways of how to best implement PS3's features in our game."
Which leads us to ponder whether we can expect to see a WWE game for Wii.
"I could imagine how it would work," Williams tells us. "That's not me saying that there will be a SmackDown! on Wii, but I'd love to work on that. I can see the Wii controller being used to perform strikes, or even being able to have it fashioned where you can use it to do grapple moves as well.
"I've thought about this. It'd be bananas, but I know there's a way. It's a challenge that I would really look forward to taking a crack at. But I think THQ will take a look and see how Wii does before they make any hard plans about whether to support it with a WWE title."
June 23, 2006