Tony Hawk Returns To A Different Gaming Landscape

Back in the day, the arrival of a new Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game would be celebrated with much fanfare by Activision. Past E3 shows featured giant halfpipes with skaters performing tricks in front of attendees on a regular schedule. But a lot has changed at Activision in recent years. These days the company only focuses on Call of Duty, Skylanders, Guitar Hero, and Destiny at its E3 booth. Even though Tony Hawk is back with his first full-on Pro Skater sequel in 13 years, he was relegated to the quiet Concourse Hall, where Activision also showed Transformers Devastation and Sierra’s King’s Quest in small meeting rooms. But Hawk’s just happy to be back in the video game business.

“It’s really exciting for me that the fans who love our series so much really wanted to see it come back on the newer consoles,” said Hawk. “For the last five years people have been asking us to please do another THPS and we’ve finally done it.”

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He’s working with developer Robomodo on the new game, which is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 this fall. The game rekindles the signature style of classic Pro Skater games in a brand-new set of levels with a focus on daring objectives and fine-tuned controls – including manuals and reverts – for endless shredding and high-score tricks. The next gen versions introduce exclusive online multiplayer gameplay for up to 20 players at one time.

“The online elements are great because you can create your own level and have up to 20 people playing at once from all across the world, and that’s something I never imagined…that community aspect to the game,” said Hawk. “I also like the idea that we can keep giving fans new content through the online stores.”

The new game offers an intuitive mode that allows anyone to create intricate skate parks quickly, which can then be used as virtual playgrounds online.

“This will open up a lot of creativity and create a new community around that,” said Hawk. “People who make the best parks will become popular and people will want to come and ride it at their levels. I think it’s a super. It’s an incredible element that I feel like is building a foundation that will be here to stay.”

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Gaming has evolved a lot since Hawk last released a new Pro Skater game. He did release a number of other skateboarding games with Activision since 2002, including Tony Hawk’s Underground 1 and 2, Tony Hawk’s Sk8land, Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground and a pair of motion skateboard games in Tony Hawk: Shred and Tony Hawk: Ride. But with the exception of an HD best-of compilation of the THPS franchise in 2012, that franchise has remained dormant for over a decade.

“The game industry has changed tremendously with mobile gaming, which has really changed in terms of which games do well and how studios stay in business,” said Hawk. “If you don’t have a Call of Duty type of blockbuster, it’s really hard to make your way. But at the same time it’s made quality rise to the top. I’m real happy that there’s a nostalgia for our game and that we can bring it to the new systems and make it count.”

Hawk remains an integral part of the development process. It helps that he’s been a gamer his entire life, and that he’s been making games since 1999.

“I play the game every step of the way,” said Hawk. “I get new builds every couple of weeks and I make notes on them. My main goal this time is authenticity, so I’m like the quality control for how it used to feel and to make sure it feels that same way. But so many people are involved in making this, especially the people who are programming the game. They played all the original series, so they know that as well. I’m more into the nitty gritty of this trick needs to look a little bit better than this or perform better than this, and maybe these should be excluded and these should be included.”

Over all of these 13 years and all of these other games, Hawk said the new online element is what THPS was missing. And now that that technology has come of age and everyone has high speed data access, so he feels like that is the element that the team is really striving for and that they’ve captured.

Hawk said he barely has time to skate in the real world with his busy schedule and his duty as a father. But he does get to live vicariously through THPS5.

“I always have gotten to do tricks that I wish that I could do, or that I maybe have tried and failed at through my life, so it’s a blast to get to do those combos and things,” said Hawk. “The funny thing about that is there’s a generation of people that played our games in the past that grew up thinking these combinations were real, and that you could do those. And now they’re the ones skating and doing those actual combos in real life. The tricks you see in the X-Games and in videos now is stuff that we only imagined in video games ten years ago.”

Beginning this September, a new generation of skaters and gamers can grind in THPS5 and make the experience their own.