“We are highly respectful of the way that our partners choose to run their business and manage our partnerships accordingly,” 2K said in a statement. “We can confirm that Hulk Hogan will not appear in WWE 2K16.”
The sex tape is at the center of a lawsuit between Hogan and the online publishing company Gawker. The racist remarks, which were leaked recently online, have hit Hogan hard.
Not only is the wrestler being dropped from 2K’s video game franchise, the WWE has removed Hogan’s photos, articles, and merchandise from its website.
Hogan has been in video games for decades, first appearing in 1987′s MicroLeague Wrestling on the Commodore 64. He was also the star of WWF Wrestlemania on the original Nintendo—not to mention a household icon tied deeply to the world of pro-wrestling, and one of its most recognizable figures.
“Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it,” Hogan told People magazine in a statement.
“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”
I can understand 2K’s decision to drop Hogan. Video game publishers work closely with sports organizations to ensure the quality of the brand and consistency between products. It would be unprofessional for 2K to go against the WWE on this.
The WWE has an organization to maintain and a brand to manage. To their credit, they acted decisively and didn’t drag this out. That’s good for the WWE, good for the game, and ultimately good for fans. Whether Hogan is truly contrite, or a racist through and through, we may never know. But the WWE isn’t waiting to find out.
Of course, Hogan claims he resigned from the WWE, while the organization claims he was fired. Either way, the world of pro-wrestling (and by extension, video games) gets more juicy, divisive controversy. Hooray.