It’s okay if you don’t remember skate. The series started 15 years ago and Skate 3the last one we had was released in 2010.
Now the skateboarding series is about to return. Fans of Skate’s bustling community who have clung to all the teases and rumors for the past 12 years had their wishes granted on Thursday when Electronic Arts revealed the return of Skate, with the next release when it’s ready, skate (stylized as skate.).
The first details were revealed in the first episode of “The Board Room”, a conversation of about 20 minutes with some of the people behind the revival of the series. The biggest takeaway from this reveal is the release plan: where the three original Skate games were your typical $60 disc releases, the new skate will be free.
I’ll come back a bit on how this new approach carries over to other facets of the upcoming game, but let’s talk about Skate the series first. If you weren’t caught up in the game at the end of the years when Skate had its moment, chances are it has completely passed you by.
Why is Skate so important?
Let’s set the scene a bit. skateThe arrival of in 2007 did not have the best timing. By then, the excellent and wildly popular Tony Hawk series had been around for nearly a decade, but fatigue had set in thanks to a pattern of annual releases and diminishing creative returns with each new entry. For all his excellence, Tony Hawk lacked innovative ideas and found himself mired in a rut of sequels that relied more on iteration than innovation.
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Tony Hawk’s schtick worked as long as it did because it was so convincing. A lot of it had to do with the basic appeal of stepping into the shoes of your favorite pro skateboarder and performing superhuman feats on their board that, in most cases, were physically impossible in real life. Simple controls fueled this fantasy, relegating complex maneuvers like ollies and grinds to single button presses.
Where the three original Skate games were your typical $60 on-disc releases, the new Skate will be free-to-play.
Neversoft, the studio that created the Tony Hawk series, also had a special knack for building labyrinthine maps filled with secrets and hidden lines. The lure of jumping on your board and rolling around to take in the view is just as responsible for Tony Hawk’s success as the hit tricks. Especially with the forgiving yet highly engaging gameplay mechanics that prioritized keeping players up and moving as much as possible.
Fantastic wish fulfillment is the selling point of this combo. It immediately clicked with an audience and for a very long time the show was a genre of its own, with no realistic competitors. So skate came with. skate represented something completely different.
Now-defunct studio EA Black Box had virtual card enthusiasts in mind who focused more on each player’s personal investment in technical excellence and culture. You don’t choose your skater from a list of pros, you create an avatar that will belong to you. The world you navigate is more aesthetically and physically grounded in reality than you’d find in Tony Hawk. This leaves less room for exploration and discovery, but finding secrets isn’t the point. You are here to become a master skater.
This design philosophy comes to life in skateThe most salient feature of all: the control scheme. skateThe unique “Flickit” controls have essentially mapped the physical mechanics of actual skateboarding onto a standard game controller, turning the right thumbstick into an analogue for your virtual skater’s body. A slight change in how you move the stick determines the type of ollie, kickflip, or manual you perform.
It’s a lot more complicated than Tony Hawk’s button-centric approach, and the execution comes down to a philosophical difference. Where Neversoft’s games viewed the controller as an engine enabling the tricks themselves, EA Black Box instead viewed the controller as a physical extension of your in-game skater. When you move that right stick, it shifts the weight of that body ; when you press the left or right trigger, it tells your skater to grab the board with their corresponding hand.
In this way, skate gets players to actively think about the mechanics of skateboarding. In actual skating, you perform an ollie by pressing firmly with your back foot while letting your front foot move in tandem with the board, then you jump when the back of the board hits the pavement. Get it right and the physics take care of the rest while you get airborne. skate‘s ollie applies the same principle to the controller, when you pull back and then quickly move forward to remove one.
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It’s an intuitive thing to pick up, but there’s a lot of complexity and nuance involved, as slight variations in how you move the stick influence the type of ollie (or kickflip or manual) you end up achieving. Therein lies the fun, the challenge and the main attraction of skate: It’s a skateboarding game whose mechanics are powered by the underlying physics concepts of skateboarding.
Later Skate releases built on this basic framework with more story, larger worlds, and a growing investment in online play. The sequels continued to garner critical acclaim and growing investment from an ardent fan community. But the series ultimately fell victim to bad timing. Fatigue had completely set in by the time skate and its sequels came with new innovations. A community formed and continued to stick around well into the 2020s, but EA quickly moved on from the genre.
How the skate work back?
As we learned on Thursday’s inaugural episode of “The Board Room,” the new skate won’t cost players a penny to play up front. And as the game map grows over time, these additions to the world won’t cost anything either. The money that pays for all that work has to come from somewhere, though. This is where the virtual skater swag will come into play.
Details of how this will all work are unclear at this time. We know that EA will not sell gameplay benefits or offer any other type of “pay to win” situation. The virtual goods you will acquire in skate are purely cosmetic, and they are more about the lifestyle of skateboarders and give players more ways to express themselves personally.
As you can see, the ‘Skate’ development team is just getting started.
Credit: Electronic Arts
skate Nor will it spoil the loot boxes where spending money gets you a random collection of items in what amounts to a video game’s equivalent of a slot machine. They were once popular in games like this, but EA got a hard lesson from their waning popularity in 2017 when outrage spread around the world. Star Wars: Battlefront II community on the game’s then-unreleased overly complicated unlock system and heavy reliance on loot box randomness.
We can only speculate on skatespecific approach to in-game purchases, but this will likely align with how many of the most popular free-to-play games operate these days. A distinct possibility is a Fortnite-style “Battle Pass” that ties specific items to level progression. EA could also be planning an in-game store where you just buy the gear you like, a la carte. A mix of the two is probably the best option from a player’s perspective, especially if the plan is for skate to receive major updates and additions on a seasonal basis.
Regardless of the approach taken by the development team, I would say that the fundamental change of making skate a free game is the right decision. As a series deeply rooted in the technical elements and culture of skateboarding, any 2022 return must have a strong online presence and a world that feels as much like a platform for self-expression as it does a video game.
Community and expression are at the heart of Skate, and they seem to be leading the way for this exciting revival.
Social play is key here. skate above all plays the game of community and culture. This is clearly evident in “The Board Room” video, where the various speakers consciously salute and express their appreciation for the gamers who have kept the dream of a new game alive over the past decade.
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It’s heartfelt and heartfelt, clearly, but it’s also calculated: to skate to function as EA needs it to (i.e. as a moneymaker), the community needs to show up. If they’re invested in the idea of an active social play space for virtual skateboarding shenanigans, they’re more likely to want to express themselves in other ways, with EA’s revenue-generating cosmetic items.
It’s the same secret sauce that powers a game like Fortnite. Battle royale is fun on its own, and regular updates from Epic Games keep the overall experience from becoming stale. But the cosmetics that let you wield Captain America’s shield or transform your avatar into Darth Vader, Naomi Osaka, or Bruno Mars are the “X factor,” the key piece of the puzzle that ties it all together.
It is still early for skate, with no definite release date and EA creators openly admitting that anything beyond the basics is in the early stages of development. “The Board Room” even hints at bigger, wackier tips and tricks that seem to be closer to the Tony Hawk vibe. But they say all the right things in this video. Community and expression are at the heart of skateand they seem to be paving the way for this exciting revival.