The ‘WWE Universe’ is more than just a catch phrase or a stupid, branded way to label WWE fans. Rather, it’s a mantra; the notion that those most prone to watching WWE Content are *so* interested in said content they’ll follow it to any number of genres and interpretations. Reality shows like WWE Ride-a-long. Cartoons like Camp WWE. Movies like ‘The Marine’. Casual conversations like ‘Table for 3’. Behind the scenes documentaries, podcasts, and games.
In the case of gaming there are currently five mobile games that are entirely different, all pretty darn good. Safe to say, 2017 was a Phenomenal (forearm) year for WWE-prone gamers on mobile platforms. There’s currently the crazy-clicker WWE Tapmania, Match-3 combat puzzler ‘WWE Champions’, Fighter ‘WWE Immortals’, War-style card game ‘WWE Supercard’, and the perhaps the best of the bunch, WWE Mayhem.
WWE Mayhem is the first WWE game released on mobile that feels almost like an actual wrestling game. You execute strikes to build momentum, then tap a button for special and finishing moves. You can block, counter, pin and work your way through a story mode to earn cash and loot and more superstars, or take your game online to fight against other opponents. It also features a ‘toys to life’ element, as you can buy real-life action figures and scan them in – Amiibo style, to unlock bonus content. It’s an intoxicating game-play loop that pares wonderfully well with a bathroom or cigarette break. Of all the WWE games I’ve played, this feels the most like clashing your two favorite action figures together. You almost want to make the ‘psh!’ “cshhh” sounds yourself.
WWE Mayhem also represents a risk, though. While an action-focused WWE game seems like a no-brainer, WWE’s previous Mobile games – all highly rated, all free-to-play – existed within pre-existing and pre-established mobile genres; they added WWE ‘flare’, but the gameplay was basically a clone of something that came before. Meaning if you already *liked* match-3 games, you’re sure to like WWE Champions. If you already *liked* Marvel Conquest of Champions, you’re sure to like WWE Immortals. If you already *liked* counting, you’d enjoy WWE Supercard.
On console it’d be ludicrous to release that many games and charge your customers 60 bucks a pop. On mobile, where the games are free, it’s just about the most brilliant thing the WWE has done. Much like the WWE Network, if the WWE can offer a variety of content, at least some of it is bound to appeal to hardcore fans – and casual audiences.
This was basically mixing the new hotness of WWE’s chocolate into mobile gaming’s established brand of creamy peanut butter. There are billions of phone users and millions of WWE fans. The overlap would be immense – and it was. Currently on iOS, WWE Mayhem has a 4.5 rating over 1,884 reviews, Immortals also has a 4.5 with 6,634 reviews, Champions with a 3.5 at 1,569 reviews, Tap Mania at a 4.5 with 1,324 reviews, and WWE Supercard sitting pretty with a *perfect 5* rating across 10,997 reviews. That’s nearly 30,000 people who felt inclined to not only download – but also *rate* these games – so the number of people playing is likely much, much larger.
Mick Foley once said the best types of wrestling shows take on a three-ring circus appeal. You may not like the hardcore stuff, but enjoy the tag teams. You may not like the main event, but dig the cruiserweights. The WWE, smartly, has done this, vastly diversifying their gaming options, and succeeded wonderfully.
While the WWE console games continue to middle-out with wonky gameplay, hap-hazard modes career modes, and a general languidness, it’s exciting to see the WWE taking risks – and succeeding, in the mobile arena. If you’re one to turn your nose up at mobile gaming, but are a WWE fan, give Mayhem a shot and go from there.
Hopefully the success of these games results in a proper wrestling game on mobile – not made my by Matt Dickie – sooner rather than later.