Skateboarders should be used to taking losses with all the beatings and broken bones we’ve suffered through skating. But naturally, when a multi-billion dollar company ignores the cries for a new installment of the SKATE video game series, skaters take it as Electronic Arts delivering them a big fuck you.
The plea for SKATE 4 is real, so much so that on August 12th, 2016, an online petition was started by popular YouTuber X7 Albert, directly linking the protest to the White House. The Berrics even started their own Instagram and campaign to join in. Albert’s petition ultimately fell short of 90,000 signatures, but I’m sure plenty of you reading this are still waking up each day with a dedicated regiment of comments on EA’s Facebook, “Fuck you! MAKE SKATE 4.”
But has anyone taken the necessary steps back to realize why Electronic Arts (EA) has never actually made the game? No, not really. Even more so, skaters ignore the several million legit reasons why EA has little to gain in pursuing the skate market. Not so long as Electronic Arts remains the leading video game company of every major sport and Star Wars video games.
While SKATE 3 has sold 2.68 million units as of September 10th, 2016, Electronic Arts publicly announced on their Twitter as recently as May 11th, 2016 that the world’s leading entertainment software company is currently not developing a Skate 4. This is basically where the cyber-beef starts: Skateboarders think the absence of SKATE 4 is an act of negligence on behalf of Electronic Arts, when in reality it’s not about skating at all. It hurts, but emotional investment doesn’t create monetary interest for EA.
Still, thousands of skateboarders will continue to voice their emotional distress at the SKATE franchise, ignoring the real dynamics surrounding the SKATE 4 riddle. Thankfully, the numbers are here to help dash your dreams once and for all. We’re not going to see a SKATE 4 anytime soon.
How Did We Get Here?
Here’s a little history lesson for you: September 17th, 2007, nine long years ago, Electronic Arts released SKATE for XBOX 360. The decades prior, neither skater nor gamer would dispute the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) franchise was the dominant force in skateboarding video games. But by the mid-00s they were blowing it, coming out with some truly terrible installments. They were starting to lose their hold on the skateboarding video game market.
In 2007, the new EA SKATE developed by Canadian company Black Box, would outsell Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground (2007) by nearly double its gross. Because of the game’s landslide over THPS, Electronic Arts president Frank Gibeau announced the SKATE franchise’s official sequel in May 2008. By the end of January 2009, SKATE 2 was released on both XBOX 360 and PS3. Just nine months after its release, EA announced the third installment of SKATE in September 2009. Boom, there you have it: SKATE 3 would make its debut in May 2010, following the yellow brick road of success paved right over the path left by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
The skateboarding video game world rejoiced in SKATE 3’s active story mode, delighting in its sensitive dual analog controls and emphasis on video editing and online game modes. For several years, skateboarders were content exploring Port Carverton’s districts, attending Skate School with Jason Lee and recreating their favorite pro skater’s video parts for all to see. The game garnered a cult following, but even so, as early as 2012-2013 users were vehemently demanding SKATE 4. But there was a catch. EA only financed SKATE through EA Black Box, a Canadian subsidiary responsible for developing the SKATE franchise, and, as some of you may already know, EA Black Box went through a series of name changes and layoffs before ultimately shutting down for good in 2013.
Electronic Arts Has No Heart?
Electronic Arts is the premier video game developer of sports video games, making EA the leading video game supplier to one of the largest markets in the world. Madden NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA LIVE, and, if you’ll consider street racing a sport, Need For Speed are all games produced by EA. They’re also behind the latest Star Wars: Battlefront mass multiplayer online game and its popular counterpart game, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.
One of the simplest ways to understand the millions of reasons why they have no real interest in producing a SKATE 4 is by taking a few seconds to ask yourself this question: what is bigger in society than fucking sports and Star Wars? Seriously, take this question a step further and ask yourself how many people are familiar with Luke Skywalker versus how many people know the name Mike-Mo Capaldi? That’s the arena we’re fighting in. It seems as though skateboarding has fallen down the trap door of Jabba’s palace, and is pinned against Jabba’s Rancor with only our passionate force as ammunition. It’s a dangerous plea when arguing the success of SKATE should warrant its return, because if you compare it to the rest of EA’s offerings, SKATE 3 really only experienced moderate success.
Electronic Arts makes more money off intangible digital content in one year from games like Madden, FIFA, and Star Wars: Battlefront, than the sum of the entire SKATE franchise combined over six years. Subscription season passes for Star Wars: Battlefront, map-packs for EA’s Battlefield series, FIFA’s Ultimate Team, and other in-game purchases have skyrocketed Electronic Art’s digital commerce over the last half decade. Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen spoke at a Morgan Stanley investors conference on their in-game downloadable content success.”We’ve been a leader in driving digital extra content for games, which really drives the profitability of this business.”
”EA makes more money off intangible digital content in one year from games like Madden, than the sum of the entire SKATE franchise combined over six years”
The Madden NFL franchise is the number one selling video game franchise of all time. We’ve seen first week sales reach upwards of 1 million on a regular basis since 2012, with grosses of $650 million annually and a total net worth $4.2 billion since Madden’s debut. You have to understand there is a new Madden, a new FIFA, a new whatever each year, grossing millions in physical sales and in-game downloadable content for online play. Madden and FIFA dwarf SKATE in sales, and with the promise of annual releases, their longevity is guaranteed. One way to look at it is to take a look at the FIFA Instagram: 7+ million followers. That’s more than the leading skateboarding outlets combined, almost twice over. That’s just one game they continue to make every year, and it’s not even their number one selling franchise.
Really, our best hope, is that Electronic Arts will release a backwards compatible SKATE 3. In other words, instead of creating a fleet of new SKATE 4 cars, EA will polish and resell the older model. It’s a distribution of resources that at the very least will hold people over until another game development company comes along to take on the reigns. That’s what all these petitions should be calling for: someone to step in and fill the hole in the market – much like EA SKATE did after the reign of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
We may never see another SKATE 4 soon, but that doesn’t mean a group of developers aren’t creating another amazing dual analog motion sensitive skateboarding video game as we speak. One with an even larger map, a better editing platform, and even more connectedness to social media and your favorite skaters. One that can be continually updated and monetized with in-game purchasable content. Skateboarding is growing – it’ll happen eventually.
And if not, fuck it. It’s not the end of the world. Go out and skate for real. SKATE is really just tech-decking in a computer world anyway. And if you get injured, get out there and get your joystick played with, or hop online and read an article down to the last word for once.