It would appear that a wrestling brand almost had a game produced by the same company as Grand Theft Auto.
Rockstar Games, who have become synonymous with the GTA franchise, seemingly had a deal which would have seen an ECW game produced before the company finally decided to go with Acclaim for the game.
David Gill, who was part of Rockstar’s production team, spoke with Tru Heel Heat Wrestling about how the deal had been put together.
I actually put together a deal for Rockstar Games to do the ECW video game. I had put together a deal with [ECW owner] Paul Heyman, we had a series of meetings, and one weekend I rented a van and brought the whole Rockstar Games team, like a 15-passenger van, and brought everyone down to the ECW Arena in Philly to see it in person.
However, it was concerns over how long ECW would be running which led to the deal not coming to fruition.
[ECW]’s financial situation was getting very shaky and at that time, this is 1998, could have been 1999, all the talent was leaving. There were a lot of questions in the [wrestling press] about talent being owed money and those types of things.
And video games take so many years to develop, and cost so much to develop. It was put to me like, ‘do you think ECW will be around in two and a half or three years when we put out this game?’.
The funny thing was, there was a bidding war to get the ECW game, and that stuff happened behind the scenes, so they put out a public call saying ‘we’re open to bidding’.
We were the top suitor, we made the top offer and we had the signed deal back, but nobody knew publicly at that time. So for ECW, it sucks, they wanted to work with us, we wanted to work with them.
Tommy Dreamer also recently spoke on Hard4Games about the value of a game deal and the discussions which were had in regard to ECW, and how Kevin Gill came to be involved.
It was an amazing time in the wrestling industry. Video games were key for your success as a wrestling company, and we had a lot of companies bidding for that game. And I’m going to tell you an interesting fact that I have said, but I don’t know if a lot of people realise this.
There was a fan, who worked for this company, and they were like ‘man, we want this ECW game to be our number two behind this other game, and it’s revolutionary, it’s a perfect fit for ECW.
And they met [us], they all came to an ECW Arena show and this one guy was such a big fan, and all this stuff was supposed to happen. They [went], ‘we just need our one game to hit, and if that game hits you will be our next game’.
And we couldn’t wait due to financial reasons, because Acclaim had lost its licence for WWE, so now they offered us money on the back end as opposed to the front end.
But that other game, that if it hit we were going to take off – that game and that franchise was Grand Theft Auto. And you think about how ECW would have fit that whole genre, and that guy was Kevin Gill, who worked there, he was a big ECW fan.
The next wrestling game to be released will be AEW’s first foray in to the market, Fight Forever.
With thanks to VGC for the transcription.