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The Lies And Lawsuits That Changed Wrestling Video Games Forever
Video games were huge money-makers for THQ and Acclaim, with the WCW series completely changing THQ. Stores had trouble keeping "WWF Wrestlemania" for Nintendo in stock, and the success continued with annual releases in the series until both licenses came up for renewal at about the same time in 1998.
How we got here
WCW scored big, signing a deal with Electronic Arts that the two companies announced in a joint press release on March 12, 1998. They did not renew THQ's license, severely affecting the company's NASDAQ share price and forcing THQ to find a way to replace WCW.
License lost to EA
Acclaim didn't know they weren't being renewed when THQ was officially let go. In a scheme by Senior Vice President of Licensing and Merchandising James Bell, the WWF was to give the license to Jakks Pacific, their action figure licensee, with accusations that Jakks paid bribes and kickbacks to direct the video game license to them.
Jakks developed a scheme
Top game publisher Activision sent proposals and outlined terms that were "clearly superior" to those of the Jakks deal, but Bell and licensing agent Stanley Shenker, who were to get the kickbacks from the deal, hid this information from WWF. As alleged by WWE, this wasn't limited to Jakks, but Jakks was also accused of bribing Shenker.
Better offers
In Bell's affidavit, he alleged that the idea of not renewing the Acclaim license had actually predated the Jakks scheme, coming directly from Vince and Linda McMahon. Due to a commission on the license, which would then go to their competition WCW's licensing agent, The McMahons did not want the license renewed.
An interesting twist