How should AEW develop a General Manager video game?

AEW Logo (photo courtesy of AEW)
AEW Logo (photo courtesy of AEW) /

Tony Khan indicated AEW is making multiple video games. How about making one of those a GM Mode only game?

(Note: AEW announced a mobile-only General Manager Mode game during their press conference on Nov. 10.)

After a well-received pay-per-view in Full Gear, Tony Khan, in response to a question on a potential video game, indicated in his post-PPV scrum that, “We’re making multiple games. We’re working on more than one game in AEW games and we’re going to cater to multiple platforms. We’re going to cater to different kinds of games and different interests.”

If that’s the case, then bring back General Manager Mode! I think AEW should go beyond that and have one of their games be a GM Mode only game as a way to “cater to different kinds of games and different interests.”

Of course, a standard professional wrestling game with various in-ring matches and a Career Mode are expected for their main game, if only because we’ve been conditioned by the WWE 2K games. It would be hard for AEW to have a Showcase Mode like 2K considering the relative lack of time AEW has been in business. Still, this should fill the need for those who just want a standard wrestling game.

However, GM Mode is a much beloved mode that many gamers still hold dear. The SmackDown vs. Raw series in the mid-Aughts is still remembered fondly mainly due to GM Mode. Xavier Woods/Austin Creed even ran a popular GM Mode series against Tyler Breeze on his UpUpDownDown YouTube channel, a nod to the nostalgia and connection many have to this mode.

You might be asking, “Why is GM Mode so revered? What makes it so special it deserves its own game?”

Well, if you’ve ever thought you would be better at booking a professional wrestling show (both short and long-term) than the promotions you watch, GM Mode is your opportunity to put that confidence and bravado to the test. YOU set the matches, YOU set the feuds, YOU set the angles; basically, YOU are in charge.

While the SmackDown vs. Raw games had you take control of one show and pitted you against the other for one year, a direct transfer of that isn’t necessarily applicable to AEW. That leads to the question: just how would I develop a GM Mode only game for AEW?

Nintendo Switch (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Nintendo Switch (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) /

The basics of an AEW General Manager Mode

First, I would meld together the traditional General Manager Mode and Career Mode. Basically, you start out as the GM of Dark with the ultimate (but amazingly difficult) goal of having more viewers than Dynamite. This can be that all-elusive last Gold Trophy many PlayStation gamers would probably need to unlock to earn the Platinum Trophy; the details will say “Very Rare” with a unlock percentage of something like 0.5 percent.

That, however, is just the macro view which doesn’t take into account the journey.

The melding of Career Mode means there would be progression goals and bonuses along the way, as well as penalties for failing to achieve said goals. These goals would be broken down into three categories: Show Goals (for individual shows), Short-Term Goals (three to six months), and Long-Term Goals (six+ months). The bonuses and penalties would be commensurate with each kind of goal.

For example, a Show Goal might increase or decrease viewership by 1,000 per goal. A Short-Term Goal might increase/decrease available funds by 25 thousand dollars. A Long-Term Goal might increase/decrease morale of wrestlers by 33 percent. These are just some possible ramifications.

Further, instead of having only one year, I would extend it to two or three years to make catching Dynamite more feasible and less frustrating. Another reason I would extend the time is that Dark has no championships to entice viewers, making it that much more difficult to draw numbers.

This leads to the rosters. If AEW is able to sign at least 50 wrestlers to be in the game, that should leave a nice split between the shows. If we look at AEW now, there are talent who mainly appear on Dark and those who mainly appear on Dynamite. Even those that appear across both shows have a “home” show so to speak.

Also, all morale for wrestlers begins at neutral, with champions on Dynamite having a boost to being happy. The higher the morale, the less likely it is for the wrestler to demand a trade or outright release. The lower the morale and well…

Like with the old GM Mode, a monetary component is involved in terms of signing free agents, making trades, and expenses from airing shows. Dark would have 10 percent less funds than Dynamite when GM Mode begins.

Yes, this puts the GM of Dark at a disadvantage, but part of the journey is the challenge.

AEW, Eddie Kingston
AEW, Eddie Kingston (photo courtesy of AEW) /

Some Specifics To An AEW GM Mode

Now, I know the thought of a GM Mode only game might not entice a large segment of gamers. There have been attempts at these types of games in the past for the NFL and MLB, but the games lacked any real depth and thus, success.

One way to combat this would be to include a mechanism where actually playing the matches (rather than simulating them) gives an uptick in match rating and overall viewers. Maybe the base score of the match starts half a point higher than if simulating. This will help prevent the game from being a pure simulation and the monotony of simulating over and over and over…

Another aspect I would include is essentially a “New Game+” mode from many role-playing games (RPGs), namely my favorite Chrono Trigger. If a user is able to overtake Dynamite in viewers and sustain it through the end of the evaluation period, they’ll open up a new mode where the user then becomes GM of Dynamite.

As GM of Dynamite, the time period is dramatically reduced to six months, and the user starts with the viewer deficit from the loaded file. The goals are reduced to Show Goals and Short-Term Goals, with the only Short-Term Goal being “overtake Dark in viewership.”

Where AEW can really leave a mark is through roster updates. With the 2K games, you have to pay download new wrestlers to the roster. Rather than this, with AEW continuing to add to their roster, free updates would further entice gamers to continue playing.

With the indications that AEW may engage in talent exchanges with various promotions, it would be even better if these wrestlers could also be added to the game as Free Agents, forcing a bidding war between the two shows.

While New Japan stars might be out of the question thanks to Fire Pro Wrestling World, there are still many wrestlers from different promotions that could add some “oomph” to the game.

Once the user puts Dynamite back on top, the user can restart, choosing either show, and engage in a “pre-season” free agency period to sign talent to shows who were added through roster updates.

Final Thoughts

As a longtime fan of General Manager Mode, and someone who spent way too many hours just trying to win GM Mode one time (seriously, I tried at least 50 times on SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006), count me in as someone who would pay my hard-earned money for an AEW GM Mode game. Being that it would be limited to GM Mode, this could be one of those games priced between 15 and 30 dollars.

Also, with the announcement on Nov. 10 about a GM Mode game in the works for mobile devices, maybe AEW uses this a pilot to gauge the interest of current fans and gamers for this kind of game. If it does well, I would imagine AEW working to port the game to consoles. The added hardware and functionality of consoles should make for a smooth transition while also incorporating some of the mechanisms mentioned in this article.

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What are your thoughts on the announced mobile GM Mode game? How about your thoughts on a GM Mode only game for consoles like the one proposed here? What other types of AEW games would you like to see?