So far 2015 has been a disappointing year for my favorite video games (NHL and WWE 2K), in terms of cover art. I’m not one base my purchase off a cover, but since I’m such a big fan, these are details I care about. This year the EA gave us this piece of garbage as the next cover for NHL 16:
After realizing that I’ll have to look at that cover from September 2015 to September 2016, I was hoping the WWE would give me something better. Once the WWE revealed that 2K16 would include the largest roster in the series, I was incredibly excited. Then they proceeded to insert Stone Cold Steve Austin on the cover. While I understand their logic behind this, I just see a massive problem with this decision.
Before I state my reasoning on why I’m not a fan of this cover, I want to let my readers know that I fully understand why the WWE put Austin on the cover. This move was a marketing decision to maximize sales, and its pretty smart, as I personally know people that would buy a video game based on the cover. Austin is arguably the most recognizable pro wrestler in history, and his face sells. There’s a good chance that even the most casual of fans would base a purchase off of this.
While Austin does bring out some of the best memories for wrestling fans, him being on the cover doesn’t exactly help today’s product. As mentioned above, this will help sales but the WWE is only harming themselves in the long run. They are directly telling their hopeful customers that Austin still represents the current product. Also by putting a star of the past one of the top selling WWE related products shows the casual viewers that the nobody on the current roster is worthy of representing the company. This only furthers the argument of a non wrestling fan that says “wrestling was only fun when Austin or The Rock were around”. It’s important for the a company to recognize their history, but it should never come at the cost of pushing the younger generation. This would be the equivalent of EA putting Mario Lemieux on the cover of NHL 16 (although it look would look better than what they’ve released). I always believed that a crucial step in creating new stars was putting them in the spotlight outside of the ring. If they can’t be pushed on a video game cover, how else would the younger generation receive publicity? I’m sure this infatuation with the past can only make the current roster feel down on themselves .If they truly insist on getting Steve on that cover, why not make a special edition? That way they get the best of both worlds in terms of superstar promotion.
The current roster isn’t that dull, and this video game, like many other sporting games, can be used to market and push a new star. Off the top of my head, Rollins, Reigns, Wyatt, or Bryan, or could have easily graced the cover of WWE 2K16. By inserting any of these men on the cover of would force the company to push them in other aspects of publicity. 2 years ago the WWE put CM Punk on the cover, and I thought using him to promote the game was done wonderfully. That means they can have success with a current roster member. If they feel these men need more time to gain mainstream popularity, why not put Brock Lesnar on the cover? This man is exclusively with company, and has a similar casual fan appeal as Austin. After having a solid UFC run, the entire sports world is familiar with Brock, along with fans that stopped watching pre-Ruthless Aggression era.
Essentially what I’m saying is that the WWE missed a solid opportunity (once again) to make their current stars even bigger. While I understand that Austin was chosen solely for marketing purposes, they hurt themselves in the long term by skipping past newer talent. Using the past to sell a current product may work, but it also devalues what they show on television weekly. They have a deep enough roster to fill the cover for the next 3 video games. Chances are, I’ll be purchasing this game on the day of it’s release, but the cover will forever be a reminder of the WWE being too infatuated with its past.