Bryan Williams talks all things WWE 2K23 with Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp.
Bryan Williams played a role in the development of WWE video games for many years while WWE Games were still being developed by Yuke's. When Yuke's and 2K Games went their separate ways, Williams briefly worked on the development of AEW Fight Forever. However, shortly after the release of WWE 2K22, Brian Williams returned to WWE Games in an effort to help with the development of WWE 2K23.
Speaking with Sean Ross Sapp at the WWE 2K23 media event ahead of the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble, Williams explained how he returned to 2K Games after being absent for the development of the last two games.
"I don’t know how that word got out, ’cause I honestly never said anything publicly. But yes, I am back, and I’m the happiest that I’ve been, professionally, in a long time," he said. "The last game that I was a part of was WWE 2K19, with AJ Styles on the cover. I worked on that game from our previous developer, Yuke’s. At that time, the last thing I did with the franchise was Ricochet’s moveset. Big fan of Ricochet. Been watching him since his PWG days. So, I thought that was it for me.
"Fast forward a couple of years, I get a text from one Mr. Lynell Jinks, asking if I’d like to come back. It couldn’t have come at a better time," he continued. "I love the franchise. I’ve spent my entire career working on this. I’m just so happy to be back, contributing to a franchise, a promotion that I love."
This year, the major addition to WWE 2K23 is the inclusion of WarGames. A WWE staple since 2017, and a WCW staple since the '80s, Williams says that technology has finally allowed for two rings to be on screen at the same time, allowing for the innovation of WarGames to finally come to video games.
"It was a huge undertaking. Triple H brought back WarGames at NXT 2017. Obviously, as you can imagine, when the fans saw that, they’re knocking. ‘Hey, 2K, when are we going to get this in the franchise? When are we gonna get War Games?’ So, I know for a fact we had been trying to get it in years prior, but timing is everything. The success of 2K22, [rebounding from WWE 2K20], set the franchise on the right course to make the WarGames into a reality," said Williams. "The engine and all the work that went into 2K22, those improvements and refinements gave us—and I’m not the biggest tech guy—it gave us enough of a solid technical foundation to build a match type of this magnitude. Being able to have two rings side-by-side with an arena environment was not possible with the previous tech that we had. It was the success of 2K22 that led us here and led us to finally being able to implement War Games, which was perfect because it just so happened that War Games was introduced to the main roster at this past Survivor Series. We have that arena in the game, as well.
"We spared no expense in bringing this match type into reality, into giving players the ability to cause all the mayhem and destruction that they have seen in real life, they will be able to replicate within the game," he continued. "I’m super proud. I know the team is super proud. They should be. They worked their butts off. It’s a beautiful thing to behold."
Discussing the process of clearing ideas with WWE, Williams says they have built trust with the sports entertainment juggernaut and WWE's main concern is that if a major mode like WarGames is going to be added, it accurately represents the spectacle that the WWE provides.
"Typically, I’m the creative type on the team, so I don’t do that much interaction with the WWE office," he said. "I know in past situations, from my time with THQ, obviously, they’re very hands-on with the roster. We’ll provide them a list, and it’s their game, right? So, they’re going to say yay or nay. When it comes to features, though, we’ve been partners with them for a long time. They trust us. So, when it comes to War Games, for example, it’s their match type. They promote it within their own program. So, when it comes to things of that nature, they’re like, ‘Hey, we trust you guys. We’ve done WarGames. Good luck. It’s gonna be a hard one. If you can get two rings in an environment, good luck. If you do it, make sure you do it right.’ That type of thing."
Overall, William says he's very excited to be back on the team, he's looking forward to players experiencing the brand new war games mode, and he also offers a tease as to what is coming to the very popular Universe Mode.
"Outside of just being back on the team and working with people I have a history with, that right there got me excited. But then seeing WarGames for the first time. I rejoined the team last year, in May, and to see that they already had a playable WarGames match already got me super excited. It was like, ‘Okay, this team is something special. The fact that we’re here already in production. We had a huge head start thanks to the engineers and the designers that got WarGames up and ready.’ But besides that, we have a Universe Mode in the game, and I can’t say a whole lot about it—I was told. But all you Universe fans, there is an addition this year that is gonna be a game-changer for that mode. This is not me being hyperbolic. I was talking to my boss about it before this event started. It is, I think, gonna be a sleeper, low key huge, feature for 2K23. So, all you Universe fans, and I’m one of them, be excited," said Williams.
Fans can learn more about the upcoming changes to WWE Universe Mode at this link.
The standard edition of WWE 2K23 is set to release on Friday, March 17, 2023, and it will available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series XS, Xbox One, and PC.
In a recent interview, the WWE 2K23 discussed how the looming release of AEW Fight Forever drives their team to be stronger. More information is available here.
Follow and subscribe to Fightful's Twitch channel for gaming streams and more