WWE and Rocket League Developer Announce Partnership


WWE’s Sports entertainment and eSport will join forces for the first time.

Many years of my life were spent in arcades until the advent of modern gaming systems and I now enjoy many weekends on my couch with the calming glow of my television and the familiar feel of a controller in my now slightly larger hands. Any glory days of hardcore online play may be dwindling but professional gaming (eSport) is a booming industry whose revenue is estimated to reach almost $2 billion by 2018. It’s no wonder the WWE is interested.

Along with the potential increase in its own wallet, WWE is undoubtedly trying to capture the attention of the 31 million Rocket League players around the world. The game is described as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars” and runs on the two largest gaming systems (Xbox One, PS4) as well as personal computers. Reviews of the game are overwhelmingly positive and many users praise the game for being simple yet addictive. Don’t get nervous parents; in the video game world, “addictive” is a compliment. The game’s development company, Psyonix, will be a “presenting partner” for both Backlash and Great Balls of Fire so it’s likely we will see eSport and Rocket League commercials on RAW and Smackdown in the near future. I’m sure the company is hoping to see its logos and wrestlers adorning the skins of Rocket League vehicles as well.

The third season of the Rocket League Championships began in March 2017 and will conclude in June with an eyebrow-raising prize pool of $300,000. The official press release for this partnership detailed other perks fans can expect:

"“WWE’s popular YouTube gaming channel UpUpDownDown, which just surpassed 1 million subscribers dedicating six episodes to Rocket League, hosted by WWE Superstar Xavier Woods™. Rocket League will also be the presenting partner of the newly-announced WWE Women’s Tournament, where for the first time in WWE history, 32 of the top female competitors from 17 countries will participate in a tournament this summer airing on WWE Network.”"

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In case it’s not readily apparent, the merging of pro wrestling and video games speaks directly to a very specific demographic, and most of them wear John Cena merchandise. I’m sure that some of the 31 million Rocket League players are also WWE fans but the goal is to not only reach them all but perhaps introduce new gamers to their digital universe. In other words, this relationship makes sense on a number of levels. Wrestling themed video games have been around for decades, but never before have the two industries partnered in this unique way. The press release also mentions that “fans at upcoming WWE live events will have the opportunity to experience and play Rocket League at arenas across the U.S.” so if you aren’t familiar with the game, your next visit to a WWE arena will fix that.