Run your own universe mode
It's time to stop beating around the bush, 2K. Everyone knows that your game engine is used for independent fantasy federations. People are importing their logos, ring designs, and entranceways to make their weekly eFeds. It is one of the major strengths of the series. It's also the one thing The Wrestling Code is going to steal from you if you don't get on this trend.
On the surface, it seems that WWE 2K wants you to make your arenas, wrestlers, and themes with their branding on them. Secretly, they are hoping that you are fixed on making a WWE brand. You should be able to make your own eFed and manage it like a real wrestling business.
What does that look like? It looks like you built everything from the ground up. You create your CEO, wrestlers, valets, and managers. You pick the color themes, logos, and branding you want. You can "buy" WWE wrestlers or other wrestlers from fantasy eFeds made by the online community. The player will have to run a weekly show, build their storylines, and get their audiences hungry for the PPV.
WWE 2K23 did not give nearly a lick about making your own PPV or stable, which was a disappointing step backward in creation suites. WWE is still operating their game modes like players are hungry for only WWE content. If players want to branch out with unique logos and wrestling brands they need to upload it on a server as if they have to do it against the developers' wishes. Nothing made me sadder than seeing that I could only be a GM for Smackdown, Raw, or NXT. Universe mode is content with you editing for their brand only. This year should blow up those restrictions.
I also understand that WWE does not want to give the spotlight to anything other than its branding. Don't give the competition free money. But that does not change the fact that droves of influencers are recreating AEW arenas and assets. Some influencers even have made a mini career on Twitch with this. It hasn't stopped since streaming was invented. The simple workaround for Create Your Own Universe Mode is having a cutscene where Triple H writes you a million-dollar check to branch out into the WWE universe. They can even stick their tiny logo on one of your set designs if they have to.
The online capability in this mode would be game-changing. Imagine having to work with other eFeds to help build your business. You could have your own Forbidden Door by inviting other gamers to wrestle in your PPV. You can buy someone else's roster or sell your company. Some gamers play World of Warcraft with the intent to sell their advanced character builds on eBay; what if you could build up a business and sell it online over the WWE network? Okay, I am getting ahead of myself.
Each eFed can have its open-door matches that the online community can visit. For example: if you go to Blood and Steel Wrestling they have only cage matches and ladder matches, while Elite Japan Pro has submission-only wrestling matches.
The main campaign would be a virtual calendar year of weekly shows and PPV events. You would be able to pick rivalries, interviews, and dramatic events, which could be advanced in week-to-week episodes until they are satisfied in the PPV. The option to directly stream your show to YouTube or Twitch would remove half of the work for streamers when making their own eFed.
I know I have to mess around with a separate video editor to make my eFed look legit. Players could also pick whether they want their Create Your Own Universe Mode to be graded (where you lose money based on bad creative choices) or if they just want freestyle. I honestly hate "losing" in WWE 2K23's GM mode because the grading system gave me such nitpicky and obscure rules that I can never satisfy when booking the matches.
Also, the most common ear sore is making your own eFed and having WWE commentators give color to it. Most influencers have to mute the commentary and record it on a video editor. A creation suite where you or AI can record your voice commentary during the match would be very helpful. EA's MMA had an online mode where you could give the play-by-play commentary in real-time, while your audience watched the match.
With The Wrestling Code and Ultra Pro Wrestling dabbling with these ideas, it would be smart for 2K to swoop in and dominate it. WWE's blind spot is its stubbornness to acknowledge that other wrestling formats exist and it makes perfect sense. Don't let the competition get one ounce of your camera time. I am confident that the WWE 2K24 liaison would laugh me out of the building for even suggesting that the game promotes non-WWE exclusive content.
But, the writing is on the wall, and the wrestling game industry is shifting from single-player story campaigns to full sandbox creation. The WWE 2K series is solely responsible for every YouTube channel that hosts fantasy federations and it would be amazing if they recognized that and took it to a new level. AEW Fight Forever could have been the pioneer for this because open-door policies and partnerships are their bread and butter, but they went in a different direction.
The other part of this that would be hard to sell is the amount of hours that you would need to pour in to make every asset for your business. We are talking about a logo editor, arena editor, belt editor, multiple PPVs, weekly episodes, a locker room of unique wrestlers, and an in-depth story editor. Your show would have to manage jobbers, midcards, and main event draws. This could get too complicated and it ends up not being fun. I would also include an express editor where you can make fast decisions that don't involve hours of manipulation and parts of the game where AI can take care of the minutiae. I have made entire rosters using the randomize button in WWE's CAW.
I can't stress enough how much YouTube and Twitch would jump on this. They would even pay $100 dollars if it was marketed as a standalone software suite. The most influential parts of wrestling games are no longer the long story modes where you have to face WWE talent to enter into a WWE show, but it's the ability to create your own world and get audiences to care about it. If WWE 2K24 won't pull the trigger on this then I am confident that more creative third-party game developers will.