In 2004, Yukes and THQ released the first WWE Smackdown vs Raw game. The game was released as WWE’s brand war was starting to develop into a raging inferno. In 2011, WWE decided to end the brand split and with it came the end of the WWE Smackdown vs Raw Video games.
In 2011, WWE was facing a crisis; a lot of their top name talents were either getting injured, died, or had left the company to seek opportunity elsewhere. The brand split ended abruptly in August of 2011, when Smackdown superstars started to appear more frequently on Raw. At the time WWE claimed that this was a move by them to have a smooth flow of content across TV and digital platforms.
Almost five years later, WWE revived the brand extension and with it the divided brand pay-per-views. This move was made by the WWE due to an over abundance of talent coming to NXT and the WWE. Indy Pros such as AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens), Austin Aries, Robert Rude, Daniel Bryan, and Finn Balor have made a big splash in the WWE and WWE could no longer deny their talent and keep them in NXT.
On July 19th, 2016, the WWE Draft took place for the first time on Smackdown! with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose being the first two WWE Superstars being drafted. So far the brand split seems to be successful but with only two pay-per-views behind them, should WWE bring back the Smackdown vs Raw franchise or should they stick with the WWE 2k series?
The Smackdown vs Raw franchise allowed players to be the GM of their favorite WWE show and pick their favorite WWE talent to make into a superstar. Players could compete against their friends to see which brand would be superior, whether it was ECW, Raw, or Smackdown. Players could create a stable to make unusual tag teams or update the WWE tag team roster. For those who were looking to create their own WWE universe, players could create their own unique title belts with prefabricated kits. In Smackdown vs Raw, players could create their own superstar with their own move sets and even their own unique finishers.
Smackdown vs Raw titles were edgy and featured different narratives than their on-air counterpart. The game also allowed the player to experience both brands while allowing players different storylines based off of players choices and match results. Over the last five years, the WWE landscape has changed dramatically with new starts rising to the top and former stars still being a global name. How would AJ styles react to a sex scandle with a WWE diva in the modern era? WWE legends would also play a role in the characters storyline whether they were friends or foes. Hopefully, they will bring back some of the WWE Legends that have lost their lives in recent years and let them have one last memorable impact on the fans life.
Since the Smackdown vs Raw titles stopped being made, the ratings for WWE games have gone down hill. This could possibly be because of the narrative of the game or it could be due to the amount of bugs that each game seems to have. The WWE 2K games look visually impressive but seem to fall short. WWE 2k17 is set to release on October 11th, 2016 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC. We will probably not see the immediate return of the Smackdown vs Raw franchise but if the brand split continues, then the Smackdown vs Raw franchise may be coming in the near future. Hopefully, it will bring back the excitement to wrestling games while providing hours of fun.