Each game in the SmackDown!, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw and WWE was and is being developed by Yuke’s and is produced by THQ. The game engine was originally taken from the Japanese wrestling series Toukon Retsuden, which was also developed by Yuke’s. Until the release of WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw, the only media in the game were subtitles. The voice was only added to the “Season” mode with the start of the WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw. Real WWE wrestlers recorded their voices and they were used in scenes for the wrestlers’ protégés in the game. There were also commentators in the game – since the release of WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It every game had commentary.
Studio Yuke’s in Yokohama, Japan worked with WWE bookers to create storylines for the “seasonal” mode for each game in the WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw. Since WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007, each game was released on more than one console. Yuke’s also handled porting so that the game engine would support new platforms for the game.
The original WWF SmackDown! was one of the most popular PlayStation games in 2000 and sold over a million copies.The game was criticized for its weak “Season” mode – the lack of storylines and freedom of action made the mode uninteresting and passable, and the mode itself was called “disappointing”. WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role received better reviews than the first game – for example, IGN stated that the previously criticized “seasonal” mode “now works properly”, but the game lacks commentators – regular music was not enough. WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It, following the words of IGN, took a small step towards improving the “Season” mode, and GameSpot stated that the presence of commentators does not improve the gameplay, but rather distracts and does not make the game better.
WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth and WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain received much more positive reviews from both IGN and GameSpot, praising the improvements in the Season mode, although the problems were still visible, but already smaller. One of the features of the mode in the new games in the series was that the plots in the mode were written by real WWE bookers. Both games were still supplemented with music, but in better quality. Shut Your Mouth, though making in-game commentary promotions, was not successful and was completely cut in Here Comes the Pain. WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW received the warmest reviews of its predecessors, with GameShark writing that the game is “a great continuation of the SmackDown! line – improved graphics, great gameplay, and many other bells and whistles make the game shine.” WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 received a 9.2 out of 10 rating from IGN, praising the General Manager mode and new match types.WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 was rated rather harshly – many were unhappy with the fact that almost nothing had changed in the game, and the added control “chips” only worsened the gameplay.