The new Skate teaser trailer arrived this week, giving us a glimpse at people reacting to the game off-screen alongside some impressive mo-cap work. This in and of itself is still exciting, proof that a new Skate is definitely happening, and self-aware enough to temper expectations by asking fans at the end to “roll with us”. But it also represents EA heading back to the roulette table, hedging their bets that showing a game early in development is better than letting fans get impatient.
we're working on it. pic.twitter.com/M6ZT1KBLDXJuly 19, 2021
It's a move that brings no end of potential risks, but carries a potentially significant upside. While showing tease after tease may frustrate fans over a number of years, it does broaden the understanding of what actually goes into game development. Instead of players seeing a game announced and expecting to play it within 6 to 12 months, showcasing the development journey is arguably giving fans a better idea of just how demanding and challenging a game can be to make. Who knows, it may even give some players a great appreciation of the final product.
Rolling with it
This is a gamble EA has been making for some time now. In fact, we've seen them show off Dragon Age 4 in a teaser trailer (opens in new tab) and concept art over the past 2 years, Battlefield 2042 was first revealed in EA Play last year with a look at one very expressive soldier, and we know that another Mass Effect is coming thanks to a Bioware blog post (opens in new tab). As EA Play Live continues to grow as a showcase of the people behind EA's games – as seen from the recent series of interviews in the run-up to their showcase – it feels like EA are also trying to highlight what goes into creating a game too.
The caveat to all of this is simple: do players want that? Dragon Age fans are currently getting a constant drip-feed of animated trailers, CGI renders, and concept art teases to get them excited for the next game in the series, but at no point have they actually seen the thing. While this might mirror the fluid nature of game development – where concepts and designs will be pitched, scrapped, reworked, and might not even make the final game – it also means that players are left no closer to know what to expect from Dragon Age 4 than they were before it was first teased at the 2018 Game Awards.
There's also the fact that this approach is still marketing. Naturally, EA won't be keen on showing you the negatives of games development, which then risks creating a false impression of what it actually means to make a game. And, let's say a game does end up going in a different direction to the one that EA has spent months, or even years teasing, then players are left to fill in the blanks about what happened. It could lead to unnecessary confusion or becoming Twitter's focus for the day – a fate I wouldn't wish on anyone.
Now, none of this isn't to say that Skate isn't going to absolutely shred. I can't wait to see what a new Skate game will look and play like when it's ready, and I was sold the second I saw a quick glimpse of Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear from Animal Collective, whose Summertime Clothes is the best song on the Skate 3 soundtrack, no further questions) in the trailer. Still, the waiting game is one most people would rather not play, and with EA regularly drawing it out for its big hitters, it's long-term teasing could leave fans irritated rather than excited.