For a brief period of time in the early 2000s, skateboarding video games were inescapable. The countercultural sport had been adapted into bits and bytes many times in the past, but following the genre-defining release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in 1999, it became one of the hottest commodities in gaming. Year after year, players couldn’t stop shredding elaborate digital combos, and developers couldn’t stop pumping out opportunities for players to do so.
By 2007, however, the genre was getting tired. Its best games were struggling to advance beyond what had been established at the end of the preceding millennium, and its worst made it seem bloated and exploitative. It’s in this window that EA Black Box introduced the world to Skate. Where Pro Skater and most of the titles that succeeded it depicted skating as it appeared on TV – sensationalized and effortless – Skate attempted depict the sport with greater realism than ever before. Performing a trick meant moving the joystick in a way that mimicked whatever it is one wanted to perform, rather than press a button to instantly grind or ollie.
Skate would go on to become a critical and commercial darling, spawning a spin-off and two equally popular sequels in less than three years – only to disappear without a trace. Despite possessing considerable goodwill, extraneous factors would lead EA to abandon the series while it was ahead, leaving players hoping for a fourth Skate title out in the cold. Yet rather than move on, Skate’s fan base would only become more voracious overtime, transforming Skate 4 from an idle fantasy, into one of the most talked about video games that has never existed; a curse of unrequited love that continues to haunt EA to this very day on social media.