Animoca Brands to move from lockdown to smackdown via game deal with WWE

Animoca Brands lockdown smackdown game deal WWE wrestling
Animoca Brands’ subsidiary nWay and wrestling entertainment company WWE have agreed to develop a mobile game.

Game developer Animoca Brands has announced a global licensing agreement with US entertainment giant WWE (NYSE: WWE) to develop and publish a new mobile game on Apple iOS and Android operating systems.

Courtesy of its US subsidiary nWay, a San Francisco-based developer and publisher of competitive multiplayer games for mobiles, consoles and PC, Animoca Brands and WWE have agreed to develop a mobile game to further drive engagement and revenue generation among its global audience.

According to Animoca Brands, the deal with WWE is analogous to other entertainment brand associations the company has made over the past few years including F1 and Bundesliga.

By partnering with leading entertainment companies to develop new gaming content, Animoca Brands is keen to leverage their extensive reach globally to showcase its game development expertise.

The multibillion-dollar company is renowned for developing what has become known as “entertainment-based performance theatre” in which professional wrestlers feature in storyline-driven competitions and compete via scripted and choreographed matches.

In an attempt to blur the line between fiction and reality, WWE chief executive officer Vince McMahon alongside his daughter and chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon have repeatedly featured as pro wrestlers since taking up their posts in 2009 and 2013, respectively.

Since its inception in 1980, the company has undergone multiple transformations and rebranding phases to eventually become WWE in 2011.

Currently, WWE broadcasts big-budget media productions such as Raw, Smackdown and Royal Rumble – shows that feature dozens of wrestlers as part of an elaborate storyline that blends fictional creative elements with peak performance athletes.

Revelling in sports entertainment

To date, nWay has developed and published three games. According to Animoca Brands, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is the very first fighting game with full cross-play functionality on five major platforms including PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and Google Stadia.

nWay has also produced Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, the award-winning mobile fighting game on iOS and Android with over 60 million downloads. The third game nWay has published is ChronoBlade, an original mobile action role-playing game.

COVID-19’s impact on WWE live shows

By combining WWE’s strong brand and access to a worldwide audience with nWay’s game development capabilities, Animoca Brands said it hopes to develop a popular mobile game that appeals to existing fans as well as attracting new audiences.

Over the past two decades, WWE has grown to become a global media and entertainment spearhead that produces programs aimed at both children and adults on a weekly basis and is viewed by more than 800 million households across 180 countries and in 28 languages.

Conservative estimates suggest that WWE’s productions reach over 1 billion people across its gamut of productions.

A new mobile game could potentially boost the company’s performance, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic, which has forced WWE to initiate a drastic cost-cutting program including laying off 20 of its top star performers and dozens of support staff.

WWE was particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, given the large public gatherings that are a staple feature of the company’s shows.

Live broadcasts were shut down when the pandemic first hit US shores in March, but were quickly restarted a month later with WWE quoted as saying “we believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times”, and that the company’s programming “brings families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance”.

Moreover, in a controversial move that drew criticism from across the US, Florida state governor Ron DeSantis officially decreed that WWE was a business “critical to the state’s economy” and added an exemption under the state’s stay-at-home order for employees of a professional sports and media production that is closed to the public and has a national audience.

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