Former WWE Games Writer On 2K Battlegrounds: “It Was A Stopgap” [Exclusive]

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Former WWE games writer Justin Leeper has given his thoughts on the current direction of the WWE 2K series and why believes WWE 2K Battlegrounds was simply a stopgap measure to aid future WWE games!

Speaking to Inside The Ropes‘ own Innes McVey, Leeper was asked for his thoughts on 2K Battlegrounds and if its arcade-esque style should be adopted for the series as a whole going forward. The writer, designer and director of Road To WrestleMania in SmackDown Vs. RAW 2009, ’10 and ’11 responded by claiming the game was simply a stopgap to alleviate development pressures of the next flagship 2K title!

“It was a stopgap. If Battlegrounds was the cost to get WWE 2K to be approved as waiting one year and taking that year off, then to me it was worth it. Now I didn’t spend 40-50 bucks and be very disappointed in it, like some people I’ve talked to have, but Battlegrounds is not for the 2K player you know what I mean? It’s not for the simulation player. I think WWE should stay a sim, I think Visual Concepts is best at sims.”

Leeper would elaborate by comparing the series to the generally well-received NBA 2K games and discussed why, despite disappointments with how the partnership has gone so far, the next WWE 2K game should return to its simulation roots of both Visual Concepts and 2K!

“I mean, basketball’s my favourite team sports and I’ve always been a big fan, since the Dreamcast, of what NBA 2K can do. So when I heard 2K and Visual Concepts was gonna take on the WWE license, I had high hopes. It hasn’t happened the way I, or many others, probably hoped it would but I still think there’s validity in sticking to the sim aspect because that’s kinda what Visual Concepts is known for and I think that they can achieve that.”

Later in the interview, Leeper was also asked what he thinks of the current wrestling games landscape as a whole. In response, he asked fans to temper their expectations for WWE 2K22 whilst praising the work going into Virtual Basement’s The Wrestling Code and the upcoming AEW console game!

“We’re probably only gonna get WWE 2K22 this year. I’m fairly certain that’s all we’re gonna get and it’s not gonna be next-gen and, even though they’ve had an extra year, it’s probably not going to be the reinvention that maybe some people expect.

So temper your expectations, be a little patient, wait for The Wrestling Code – those guys are just getting started on motion capture. They’ve got some good passionate guys behind it, I’ve talked to them quite a bit and given my input to them. Yuke’s and AEW are working hard but there’s no huge rush for them either.”

WWE 2K Battlegrounds released to a mixed reception in September 2020. Some praised the return to an arcade-style similar to that of WWE All-Stars whilst others criticised the game’s over-reliance on microtransactions and lack of replayability outside the campaign mode. Whilst it’s currently unknown what direction the series will take next, many speculate that WWE 2K22 could well be on the horizon.

Check out our full interview with Justin, where he also discussed the origins of Road To WrestleMania mode in WWE SmackDown Vs. RAW and what went wrong behind the scenes with WWE 2K20!