Tony Hawk Shred now 'for kids' and 'gift-oriented' says Activision. What the hell happened, Tony?

As we reported earlier this week, Tony Hawk's Shred sold 3,000 copies in its first week in the US. But fear not! Activision has announced its cunning plan to get the most from the game this holiday season. It's aiming the game at 'kids', and calling it 'gift-oriented'. In other words, it's hoping parents who don't know better will buy the game for their offspring.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Activision Publishing's CEO, Eric Hirshberg, said:

“For the first time we’re targeting that game to kids. It’s a gift-oriented game, but, that said, we need to build awareness for the game still. … I think you’ll hopefully see a bigger ramp-up as we get further into the gift giving season.”

Wait a sec... raise awareness? Ten years ago, the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series was a phenomenon. The first game was good and promised much, but the critics adored THPS2. The third was universally acclaimed and ran like a dream as the series debuted on PS2. Even THPS4, which came along worryingly swiftly after 3, was high in quality (if a little convoluted at times). Look at the Metacritic pages:

Above: Ah, the Halcyon days of PS2, Dreamcast and the first couple of Tony Hawk sequels. 98/100? Wowser

But then it all went wrong. Tony Hawk's Underground was still a great game, but that too got a sequel far too soon, adding little more than Bam Margera. Soon we were onto 'Project 8' (a decent reboot, immediately superceded by EA's Skate) and then onto Wii, before getting the 'RIDE' board.

Above: Metacritic's yellows and reds for recent Tony Hawk games are indicative of the series' recent slide

Activision has made no secret of its policy for turning games into franchises with yearly updates. But while it may be a highly profitable business model in the short term, is it really sustainable? With Guitar Hero following a similar pattern of declining sales and critical fatigue, surely it's time this business model was re-evaluated?

There doesn't seem to be much you can do to salvage a series that's reached saturation point and lost its hold on the critics. It's dead. 3,000 sales in the US in the game's first week confirms it - nobody cares any more. Looking at those sales and saying 'it'll pick up in the holiday season' isn't the way forwards. Even if it does work and 300,000 unsuspecting parents buy it as a gift only for their child to grow bored immediately, they'll make a promise to themselves:

"Well, I'm never buying that again".

19 Nov, 2010

Source: Gamasutra


  • TheUserFormerlyKnownAsThePrince - November 21, 2010 12:25 a.m.

    I hate to see that THAW didn't score well. honestly, Tony Hawks American Wasteland is one of my favorite games. Proboably the best I've ever played.
  • avantguardian - November 20, 2010 10:57 a.m.

    @danamrich: if you think frequency and quality don't have a direct relationship, well, "you're fooling yourself dude." the proof is in the pudding, as they say. i suppose i could have made my post even longer by clarifying that entertainment mediums' cycles DO vary...i thought that was kind of self explanitory... that doesn't invalidate the crux of my statement, "yearly releases kill video game franchises." if you don't think those mediums you mentioned would benefit from more tlc and less of focus on just constantly meeting deadlines or making as much money as possible, well...that's your opinion... i really don't want to argue about it, and i certainly could not care less if you agree... p.s. might not want to come off as so condescending...makes you look like an a$$...and no, i won't read your stupid blog....
  • Overlord153 - November 19, 2010 10:30 p.m.

    When there are no more CoD Black Ops Sorry for double post reCAPTCHA ritndins great I'm the overlord I should be great!
  • Overlord153 - November 19, 2010 10:28 p.m.

    Marketing to children= that game you buy for your nephew on Christmas Eve and there are no more Call Of Duty Black Ops to be sold
  • DanAmrich - November 19, 2010 8:13 p.m.

    @Avantguardian: "this goes for any entertainment medium..." Except TV shows, right? Because those shows come out every year with new episodes and talk about the same characters living in the same place getting into...well, actually, I was going to say the same situations, but they do seem to have a different story every week, and gee, it does appear that millions of people like that system...some of the shows even win awards for doing great work that a lot of people enjoy on a yearly basis. So...hmm. And what about those magazines, that keep coming out every month for some reason, even though the articles are completely different in each issue? And what's with these websites updating EVERY DAY? That's not enough time to make entertainment for me! I want to wait, dammit! You're fooling yourself, dude. It's not about frequency; it's about quality.
  • AGENTJORRRG - November 19, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    You know if they'd just put THPS4 on XBLA, Steam, and PSN fo like $10 Exactly as it is, the series would be saved.
  • kachigop - November 19, 2010 8:07 p.m.

    The Tony Hawk Underground games for Gamecube where a good time. Plenty of good memories playing those. I didn't hate American Wasteland either. The open world thing was a gimmick, but it wasn't awful. Everything went down hill from there.
  • DanAmrich - November 19, 2010 8:06 p.m.

    I think Justin's upset because Tony Hawk dumped him for someone younger.
  • avantguardian - November 19, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    ok everybody! this is it! the huge pile of sh*t that is the tony hawk series has only one thing to blame, and hopefully it will serve as a martyr and constant reminder of how to ruin great things... yearly sequels man...i tell ya... if your favorite band put out a new album every year, wow...would that be about scraping the bottom of the preverbial creative barrel...this goes for any entertainment medium.... concepts need time to' cycles (san most sports, due to their annual nature) really need a two year minimum, the process is just far too involved... anyone who's sat through a modern game's credits can feel me on that... you can get away w/ it for a while, the skate and CoD series come to mind...put even pizza gets old after a while, if' n ya know what i'm sayin'..
  • QWERTYCommander - November 19, 2010 6:49 p.m.

    I... don't know what to say. The Tony Hawk license expires in 2015. Hopefully they can use that time for a good reboot, like with Need For Speed. But this is Activision, who already tried to reboot the series with RIDE. Robomodo, I'd like to present you with a big FUCK YOU. And a double FUCK YOU to Activision. And a tiny FUCK YOU to Neversoft for selling the series to the douchebags at Robomodo.
  • suicidali - November 19, 2010 6:45 p.m.

    I think they should either jump on the HD remake bandwagon, or make a game with all the good levels/songs/skaters on it, the original style of gameplay and make it purely online... That'd be pretty cool Either that or just surrender to Skate's obvious superiority
  • russman - November 19, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    The activision folly of falling for the hot trnds and trying to shovel it down gamers throats. Free roaming was cool, so they made the skater get off the board. Spending way too much dosh on large plastic controllers was trendy, so that did that too. Lets hope kinectimals dosen't catch on or next year we'll be rubbing furry skate boards.
  • smashpro1 - November 19, 2010 5:23 p.m.

    Farewell, sweet Hawk. I prefer to remember you at your best: jumping down a huge gap at a school with Spider-Man on a skateboard.
  • 510BrotherPanda - November 19, 2010 5:17 p.m.

    It's not that I outright hate THPS, I just liked it back when I played 2 and 4. The plastic junk they call a skateboard is not worth the doubled/tripled price tag in my opinion. Also, the overall game lacks the polish of the old ones' controls. Why even bother these days?
  • CARDYKEV - November 19, 2010 4:50 p.m.

    Whatever happened to Dignity and Self Respect?
  • JoeMasturbaby - November 19, 2010 4:42 p.m.

    if activision wants to make more money off this series they should package the first 4 games into one disc (in HD) and sell it. i cant say ill ever buy a THPS game again unless its an HD remake.
  • CH3BURASHKA - November 19, 2010 4:42 p.m.

    It's targeted for kids; therefore, it's allowed to suck ass. The sooner the franchise dies, the better. Perhaps if Activision loses too many franchises in a short period of time, they'll pull and EA and create a bunch of new IP.
  • SweatyCrease - November 19, 2010 4:29 p.m.

    The best thing about THPS was racking up massive multi million point combos, it was pure arcade gameplay with accurate controls, and now? hmm, not so much.
  • CoryRX8 - November 19, 2010 3:59 p.m.

    @V1N3 I see your point, but based on how well all three of the Skate games reviewed, I think that the low Tony Hawk scores really are just due to franchise fatigue. I feel like Activision just rehashed until they realized that wasn't going to work anymore, so then they took desperate gambles that didn't pay off. Skate came in with a fresh take on the genre, and has had a steadily added new features and improved with each iteration, just like Tony Hawk did in its heyday.
  • V1N3 - November 19, 2010 3:40 p.m.

    My Hypothesis on the low scores are just that skateboarding games are getting old. Back then they were something new and fabulous, new innovations were created game after game. After that they just couldn't come up with anything fascinating and people have lost there interest in these games. Just sayin'

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