Things aren’t going too well for Tony Hawk and the latest games from his once beloved franchise. Not only was Ride a critical failure but this year’s Shred, a game that was meant to save the series and give reason to owning a large plastic skateboard, only sold a measly 3,000 units in its first week of sales. Ouch. Luckily for the extreme sports philanthropist, Activision ceo of publishing Eric Hirshberg hasn’t lost faith in Hawk’s credibility. Speaking with Industry Gamers (via Gamespot), Hirshberg has his fingers crossed for things to pick up: “I think it’s early to close the book on Tony Hawk Shred, because we are marketing it to kids, and it is a great gift, and the gift-giving season has already begun. We’re going to keep the pedal to the metal on that and continue to market through the holiday and hopefully we’ll deliver some proponents.” The site proposed whether Mr Hawk was still relevant for today’s gamers and that got Hirshberg thining: “I think your evaluation is correct.” See? “The interesting thing is that I think the last game had some technical problems with the board, and lots of times when you innovate that happens. This game and the relationship between the game and the board is spectacular. It’s a whole different level from Tony Hawk: Ride. That might change things too. But at the same time, I think that you’re basically asking the same questions that I’m asking and that we’re asking about how to recapture the mass imagination surrounding this franchise.”
The ceo continued his musings: “The one question that I can answer, and remarkably so, is that Tony Hawk does really still have relevance and tremendous appeal for people. He is a lasting icon. He has that Michael Jordan-ish or Jordan-esque staying power, seemingly. And that doesn’t mean that other great skaters haven’t come up who are younger and more current, but he really is that kind of Mount Rushmore-level guy in that category, so that’s not the issue. I think we have to ask all the smart questions and make some smart moves in terms of innovation to see if we can recapture people’s imaginations.”
I don’t know whether the right questions are being asked from Activision’s side. They seem defiant on churning our games with chunky plastic peripherals and when the first games under performs, they think a sequel will help. But by then, trust in the name has already been lost. I think if the name of Tony Hawk has been muddied in the eyes of gamers, it’s because the market has been saturated with mediocre yearly releases and an initially glitchy peripheral. When the audience wanted more realistic skating games like EA’s Skate, the Tony Hawk games stuck with its arcade roots. Year after year. The early games were great but if the later ones lack innovation, they’re bound to fail. Whether or not Tony Hawk is an icon or not is irrelevant when the games can no longer back up the brand.