Been waiting two years for an AEW video game? Huge news, then: three are on the way. AEW stands for All-Elite Wrestling, and since its first show in 2019 fans have repeatedly praised the upstart fed for freshening up the grap business – making it the first bona fide rival to WWE in two decades. Below GR outlines the exact make-up of that deadly digital triple threat, reveals the first gameplay footage, and examines how the new Yuke’s-developed sim might play, to form your AEW video game guide.
AEW video game trailer: watch the teaser now
The first AEW teaser trailer dropped in November 2020, and features Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho smacking one another in the face – before a surprise interruption. You can see it right now on Youtube.
AEW video game release date: three titles headed your way
The first AEW video game release date for your diary is 'out now'. It applies to AEW Casino: Double Or Nothing, which launched on 26 February for Android and iOS devices. It does what it says on the tin, offering “AEW-branded versions of slots, blackjack, poker and roulette, along with AEW music, sounds, videos, wrestler virtual avatars, gift packs and more”. In an intriguing twist, players can score real AEW merch and prizes via live tournaments and sweepstakes. Cool.
Next up is AEW Elite GM, a mobile offering headed to both Android and iOS devices later in 2021. The company describes it as “the evolution of the GM simulator genre, taking the strategic elements of simulation and fantasy games to create a competitive and engaging space for the wrestling community to take part in”.
AEW video game developer: Yuke’s is back
2000 N64 release WWE No Mercy is considered legendary in virtual wrestling circles, and when news of an AEW game broke in 2018, Japanese developer Syn Sophia was strongly linked to the project. Fans responded with unrestrained glee: Syn Sophia is the current name of famed No Mercy developer AKI Corporation.
However, those rumours proved false. It’s another Japanese studio renowned for its wrestling prowess which is overseeing AEW’s console debut. Yuke’s has been synonymous with digitised powerbombs and spinebusters since the release of PS1 classic WWF Smackdown, again in 2000, and 2K’s decision to cut ties with the developer midway through the creation of WWE 2K20 is seen as the main reason for its downfall. (Which infamously led to WWE 2K21 being cancelled.)
Yuke’s reputation slipped a little after control of the former Smackdown series passed from THQ to 2K. Yet that’s precisely why the switch to making AEW games should trigger excitement: it’s a fresh start for a revered developer with a point to prove. And there is one AKI Corporation connection, too. No Mercy creator Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashita is attached to the project in an advisory role.
AEW video game roster: Who’ll make the cut?
A host of long-time WWE names are certain to feature major roles in the AEW sim. Chris Jericho is one: he was among the first three wrestlers confirmed, along with fellow main eventer Kenny Omega and longest-serving women’s champ Hikaru Shida. Former Shield member Dean Ambrose is a lock to appear under his AEW name of Jon Moxley: ditto Miro (known in WWE as Rusev), Jake Hager (Jack Swagger), Pac (Neville), Matt Hardy and Cody Rhodes.
Expect Brodie Lee (Luke Harper) to appear too. Real name Jon Huber, the big man passed away in December 2020 at the age of just 41. AEW has kept his legacy alive with moves such as awarding his son Brodie Jr the red TNT Championship belt, and you suspect a role in the video game will be another small sign of tribute to a man beloved by his contemporaries.
For a more detailed look at those we expect to make the cut, check out GR’s AEW roster guide.
AEW video game legends: a Sting in this tale
Appealing to old-school fans is critical when it comes to sales of wrestling games, which is why WWE repeatedly crams its sim offerings, and more offbeat efforts such as WWE 2K Battlegrounds, full of famous names from yesteryear. Yet while both FIFA 21 and PES 2021 offer the opportunity to play as Diego Maradona, Frank Rijkaard and Fernando Torres, there’s less-than-zero chance of The Rock or Steve Austin appearing in a TNA game.
However, the hot newcomer can call upon some familiar veteran names, in addition to Jericho and Hardy. Former WCW world champion Sting – himself a major attraction of WWE 2K in recent times – debuted in 2020 and will surely be front and centre of the video game. Arn Anderson, Billy Gunn, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Taz all have on-air roles and could receive makeovers to represent their prime years, and Bret Hart can also be considered an outside bet. The ‘Hitman’ has never been shy of criticising WWE and made a surprise one-off appearance for AEW at Double Or Nothing in May 2019.
“I do have a lot of fondness for what they’re trying to do, and I support them,” he said at the time. “I hope they become a real big wrestling company in the next year.” Well, that last part came true…
AEW gameplay details: what can we expect?
According to Omega, a massive gaming fan as well as a main eventer, this won’t be like Yuke’s wrestling sims of yesteryear. “The biggest challenge we have right now is kind of representing the current wrestling style in a way that still makes it feel like the games of old,” he tells Talksport. “Because things have changed, it’s not the same wrestling climate as it was in 2000.”
That first footage suggests that this will be a Smackdown-No Mercy hybrid, offering a degree of realism but equally focussed on weighty fisticuffs and blockbuster moves. In case you didn’t watch it, its big surprise is female grappler Hikaru Shida pummelling Omega at its climax, suggesting male vs female matches – a colossal no-no in recent WWE games – are in. Create-a-wrestler and online modes are also confirmed.
AEW video game live updates: are they a possibility?
Yes, according to Omega in his Talksport interview. A major drawback of recent WWE games was the series’ inability to keep up with new signings, surprise departures or other roster changes in a similar vein to FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K or MLB The Show. Omega says changing the perception of wrestling games staying locked for an entire calendar year is a priority for both AEW and Yuke’s.
“As great as it is on launch, as our roster grows – let’s say we add a pay-per-view name, add a new arena, let’s say we sign whoever, anybody! – we want to be able to support those new additions as well… Hopefully the new additions/updates will be really prompt. That’s the plan anyway! So everyone can feel up to date with our roster, and how AEW grows.”