During the 2000s, skating games had their best years. Franchises like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater featured some of the bestselling games of their era. However, the craze eventually died down, and for a few years, it seemed like skating games would never make a return. Fortunately, Blizzard Albany (formerly Vicarious Visions) was able to introduce skating games to a new generation of gamers with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 which was able to become the fastest-selling title in the franchise, moving over a million copies within its first month of release in 2020. It seems Skateanother iconic franchise of the same genre, is getting ready to follow in its footsteps.
In 2020, Electronic Arts revealed that a new Skate game is in the works, but things went pretty silent after that. Recently, EA has given gamers updates, assuring fans that the developers, a team called Full Circle, are still working on it, and it even went so far as to post a pre-pre-pre alpha trailer showing the game at its earliest stages of development. Most likely, the game will feature microtransactions in the form of skins, and if this is the case, EA should learn from its past and make sure it focuses on quality rather than quantity.
EA’s History With Microtransactions
The gaming world has always had an uneasy relationship with microtransactions because they come with both positives and negatives. Microtransactions can be a good way for a studio to continue supporting its game after release by providing useful items for players to purchase. This can be especially valuable in single-player games where microtransactions can give players a reason to jump back into a title they have completed. However, microtransactions can also become predatory when they are tied to items that give players an unfair advantage, or when they are used to paywall items that should be part of the base game.
Gamers have been aware of the negative aspects of microtransactions for a while, and announcements of the inclusion of microtransactions have come to elicit suspicion. Sometimes, microtransactions are overpriced, or they are presented as optional purchases to gain benefits that can also be obtained through regular play, but it becomes obvious that this is implausible because it requires a ridiculous amount of playtime or some other unrealistic restriction. Furthermore, when gamers have already paid for the base game, it can feel a bit unfair to have to pay extra for content that should be part of the experience for everyone.
The hate for predatory microtransactions in EA games reached a crescendo when, in 2017, a gamer complained on Reddit that they had to pay $ 80 to unlock Darth Vader in Star Wars Battlefront 2. In addition to the steep price, it also seemed unfair that there was a price tag attached to such a central character. The user / u / EACommunityTeam, communicating on behalf of EA, claimed that the “intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes,” but very few people were swayed by the argument, and the comment still sits as the most downvoted comment in Reddit’s history.
Since then, EA has not entirely abandoned microtransactions, but it has certainly been far more cautious about how it applies them to games. With the fourth Skate installment, EA will likely include some microtransactions, but it will likely also not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Fortunately, there are a few ways that the company can do this.
Skate and Its Skins
Most of the fun of skating games comes from gathering speed and landing the most ridiculous stunts. Grinding down rails, catching some air time after rolling up a half-pipe, and flipping one’s board over obstacles are just part of the amazing tricks available in Skate games. However, gamers are also attracted to skating games due to their aesthetics. The skating subculture has always had a cool, rebellious allure to it, and skating games, including Skatehave replicated this quite well through visual design and the fashion on display.
Nailing the aesthetic skater will probably be a part of the next Skate game, so players will likely have the chance to spruce up their character with different clothing. This could be an opportunity for EA to skillfully include microtransactions, but it needs to be done correctly. Instead of flooding the game with tons of low-quality skins, EA should instead focus on quality, ensuring that each item of clothing on offer is well-designed and worth its price. This can be done, for example, by teaming up with real-life clothing brands to craft unique branded clothing for the game. Of course, paid items should sit alongside items that players can unlock for free, and players who choose to not buy any skins should not be disadvantaged in any way, outside of missing out on purely cosmetic additions.
Skate will have lots of social features according to some reports. Furthermore, if alleged leaks by industry insider Jeff Grubb are true, the next Skate game could place a heavy emphasis on player-generated content; players will supposedly be able to design skins and skateboard artworks, and there will be the option for players to create skateparks together. This could mean that content generated by EA will sit alongside user-generated content, which would increase the need for EA to up its quality.
A select few gamers will get to experience a bit of the upcoming Skate game soon thanks to closed playtesting that players can sign up for on the game’s official site. While there is no guarantee that those who sign up will get to be a playtester, those who do make it in are prohibited from sharing screenshots, recordings, or anything else from the playtest sessions. For the rest of the gaming world, they will have to wait a bit longer to experience what EA has been cooking up, and hopefully it does justice to the beloved Skate franchise.
The next Skate game is currently in development.
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