Just imagine how glorious it would have been for EA to unveil a new Skate game during their E3 presser in June?even if was little more than one of those small video packages showing programmers hard at work on wireframe figures or simply a logo like was done to announce Star Wars Battlefront and Mirror?s Edge Catalyst respectively. The praise EA would have been smothered with by the fans who have waited years for a next installment in the Skate series would have been hard to equal.
Heck, even if EA had just announced a backwards-compatible version of Skate 3 for Xbox One, the place would have gone nuts?let along a hint of Skate 4, which would have broken the Internet.
And maybe that?s part of the problem with the Skate franchise.
Never mind how amazing it would be to see the franchise join the rest of the EA line-up powered by the Frostbite Engine. With lifelike visuals, refined physics ideally suited for the game, and more realistic lighting, there is little doubt in the minds of most that EA could absolutely knock it out of the park if they only showed a little initiative.
In what seemed to be an admission designed to deflate interest in any appearance at E3, Electronic Arts tweeted in May with the sole purpose of throwing cold water on any idea that the game was even an idea, let alone in development.
So why does EA continue to resist what would seem to be a sure-fire hit? Here are some of the reasons why?
A full plate
At EA?s E3 press conference this year, it was clear that the company has a stellar lineup of games in the queue for 2016 and beyond. In addition to their sports franchises Madden NFL and FIFA, EA also has new entries in the Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield franchises coming later this year, as well as another Mass Effect and Titanfall on the way. Six AAA-level releases in the span of less than a year is a tall order for any company, even one with the marketing muscle of EA.
When compared against that lineup, some might make the argument that a fourth Skate game would have a hard time finding a place in EA?s release schedule.
What year is it?
Madden NFL. FIFA. Star Wars Battlefront. Battlefield.
Notice anything similar between all of these titles? Yes, they?re all designed to use the powerful features of the Frostbite engine, but that?s not what we?re talking about. EA, like other leading publishers, has started to focus their development around an annualized release schedule to reap the benefits of recurring development?amortizing costs across multiple releases?and a public fondness for certain intellectual properties. EA is blessed to have a number of such titles in their arsenal of releases each year, undoubtedly making it more challenging to greenlight games?even recognizable titles with a built-in audience?that aren?t part of this release strategy.
It?s all Tony Hawk?s fault
A decade ago, skateboarding games were all the craze, led by Tony Hawk Pro Skater. The series was given another chance to resurrect the genre last year with the release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5. Unfortunately, in what was largely a wasted effort, that title failed to live up to even the tempered hype it had being based on a once-beloved franchise due to a sour stew of glitches, frame-rate problems, and some of the worst texturing seen on a current-gen machine. THPS5 undoubtedly contributed to the road block that seems to have appeared in front of a Skate 4 announcement.
Despite the bad news, there are reasons to be optimistic that we might be playing a Skate game in HD soon. Skate 3 has been openly hinted at as one of a growing list of backwards-compatible games for the Xbox One, and rumors that a recent re-rating of the game could mean Skate 3 on Xbox One sooner rather than later have enhanced these hopes further. Add to that the outpouring of interest from fans who are flooding social streams then we may just get the sequel that everyone?except the company that owns the IP?wants to see.