After years wrestling games being heavily dominated by the WWE 2K franchise, AEW Fight Forever arrived earlier this year with the goal of finding their own real estate in a relatively monopolized genre. While they were never going to have the same massive studio resources to match the graphics quality of WWE 2K23, AEW Fight Forever brought an exciting new experience to fans.
With the dust settling on the first offering from AEW Games, it's now starting to look like AEW Fight Forever's time may have already passed. With the final vestiges of announced new content arriving and the player base dwindling, what's left for AEW Fight Forever?
Is AEW Fight Forever dead?
Originally released in late June 2023, AEW Fight Forever came onto the scene after several years of anticipation. The title was first announced in November 2020 as an upcoming AEW Console Game, and they set the tone right out of the gate by revealing the WWF No Mercy director Hideyuki Iwashita would be involved in the creation of the title.
AEW Games also partnered with longtime wrestling game developer Yuke's, who had parted ways with 2K Games and Visual Concepts after years of working on the WWE 2K franchise. All the pieces were in place for AEW Fight Forever to be a true gamechanger in wrestling gaming, and we're finally starting to see whether that rang true.
The stylized and simpler graphics and art direction of AEW Fight Forever is more reminiscent of the WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain days, and the gameplay definitely pulls from that title as well as the WWF No Mercy release on N64 more than two decades ago. The game even included a single player career mode allowing you to use existing members of the AEW roster compared to the custom only career mode in WWE 2K23.
These were all exciting details, and the game had plenty of buzz upon arrival. Unfortunately, all of that buzz seems to have died off and taken most of the game's player base along with it. Less than three months after launch, AEW Fight Forever feels dead in the water.
Stadium Stampede and final DLC pack are the last hurrah
AEW Fight Forever already had four confirmed DLC packs on the way around launch featuring new additions to the in-game roster as well as a few new minigames. With the last one arriving on September 28, almost exactly three months after the game's release date, none of them have really been enough to re-energize players for the game.
The closest to a new breath of life came via the Stadium Stampede battle royale mode introduced on August 24, but even that has dealt its own damage to the title. AEW Fight Forever was already struggling, and players who are hoping to hop online for a quick standard match could face lengthy wait times only for no opponent to be found.
You'll have a little better luck hunting for a Stadium Stampede match, but again the likelihood of finding a match quickly seems hit or miss. Stadium Stampede is fun at a glance, but it's not exactly built to be a long-term experience nor can it make up for the rest of the title's dwindling interest.
AEW Games needs to focus on future endeavors
As of now, it's difficult to define the success of AEW Fight Forever. AEW Games hasn't released any official sales figures, and the only potentially accessible numbers are Steam-specific and don't include any players or sales on other consoles. According to VG Insights, the title sold more than 33,000 units on Steam, but at this point they're only peaking around 37 active players per day.
Even if that number is correct across all platforms, that would still be peaking at a maximum of 250 active players each day. That doesn't make AEW Fight Forever a failure, but it does mean AEW Games needs to shift their attention.
Additional DLC and modes have only made a small dent, but an AEW Fight Forever sequel could still have major potential. AEW Fight Forever proved there is a dedicated fanbase interested in these games. The core gameplay engine, the minigames, and even the recently added Stadium Stampede mode are a fantastic foundation for the future of this potential franchise.
Whether it's AEW Fight Forever 2 or something entirely different, AEW Games still has the opportunity to cement themselves as a key part of the wrestling gaming market. It's time to concede and admit the AEW Fight Forever experiment has ended to make room for the next big star.