AEW Fight Forever is reportedly facing a significant snag in getting published.
The problem started all the way back in November, when THQ Nordic and AEW released a new gameplay trailer for AEW Fight Forever. While they had shown a lot of interesting features in the game, including intergender matches, weapons, and blood, the trailer was introduced with a Teen rating at the very start.
As it turns out, the ESRB is now not screening AEW Fight Forever with a Teen rating. In fact, AEW and THQ Nordic have been resubmitting the game to the ESRB multiple times now, presumably in the hopes that they would get said rating.
It seems that it is particularly the amount of blood and gore that is present in the game that is the big holdup in giving AEW Fight Forever that much desired rating. All parties involved are sure that they will eventually get the rating they want, but since they are still calibrating to what would satisfy the ESRB, AEW and THQ Nordic have held off on making an official announcement for a release date.
It’s a somewhat unique situation for the company that warrants a comparison to the wrestling video games of old. Given that AEW have hired venerable game developer Yuke’s to work on AEW Fight Forever, and in fact even rehired the designer for the 2000 Nintendo 64 game WWF No Mercy, it’s worth noting that WWF No Mercy got a Teen rating. In fact, Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain, arriving on the PlayStation 2 three years later, also by Yuke’s, also received a Teen rating. While we don’t know all the details, Yuke’s previews seem to suggest that they did not make AEW Fight Forever particularly any more violent than their previous wrestling games.
In fact, you would have to leave Yuke’s and WWE to find the first wrestling video game to receive a mature rating, namely, Acclaim’s ECW Hardcore Revolution. WWE wrestling could get bloody and violent, but they seemingly did not allow the games to simulate what the athletes would do to themselves all the way.
In contrast, under the watchful eye of hardcore gamer and AEW executive vice president Kenny Omega, AEW Fight Forever may be looking to simulate that kind of violence too closely. That November trailer did show you would be able to make opponents bleed, as well as hit them with weapons.
Perhaps the big difference is that, even with the throwback mindset behind making AEW Fight Forever, the game’s graphics and presentation are far more realistic than the moving boxes of WWF No Mercy.
It seems AEW, and possibly specifically Omega, want to thread the line as close as possible to what the ESRB will find acceptable, and still allow them to publish a game with all the bloody content that they want in it. They have expressed their intention to make it a game that evolves over the years, so maybe AEW doesn’t mind burning a bit more money now to get this exactly right. It may seem shortsighted and it may not, as AEW hopes to get the launch exactly right, thereby setting the stage for a long term relationship between the wrestling promotion, the game developer, and the fans. But hopefully, they don’t take until the end of this year to get it there.
AEW Fight Forever is planned for release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.