Skate 4 is going free-to-play and it’s getting a name change. This news has been around for a few days, but this move has been obvious for a lot longer than that.
In fact, I even wrote a story that relates to this way back in March 2021, which set everything in motion for an inevitable turn to a live service game.
The most unsurprising surprise
So, if you missed the news, what was going to be Skate 4 has rebranded to just ‘skate.’ and will become a free-to-play game with many seasons of content planned, as announced in Full Circle’s vlog update.
Now, I get the resistance to this. Just EA doing EA things and making what would have been a slam dunk of a game (just give me offline free roam again please) and turning it into some always-online experiment fills any fan with trepidation. But don’t count it out just yet.
Free-to-play games don’t always translate into bad games. Provided they start with a solid base of decent physics and offer a wealth of modes, which are not affected by any pay-to-win upgrades alongside a fair economy for in-game items, then it has promise.
Until we know more, I can’t say either way what this will turn out to be, but what I can say is that the writing has been on the wall about this for a long time. Not even this specifically, but for free-to-play extreme sports games as a whole.
Where have we heard this before?
Cast your minds back to Project Gravity (opens in new tab) — the spiritual successor to SSX Tricky that was going to be a (yep, you guessed it) free-to-play game based on snowboarding.
Set to feature all the “arcadey, amazing-feeling, very accessible, competitive and fun” elements you’d expect from a game like this, but with a “live service” approach, this will be yet another regularly updated title in the same arena as skate.
To give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the life of a gaming/tech journalist, you see about 50% of our working day in the limelight. The remaining 50% is taken up by meetings, pre-writes, emails and following up on previous leads for future developments.
That’s exactly what I did with this — asking Steve for any updates on the game. In my last chat with him, back in July 2021, Rechtschnaffer confirmed that Supernatural Studios had partnered with a “major Global publisher.”
This has caused the team to be in stealth mode ever since, working away on its game. Could it be EA? I’m erring on the sceptical side about this theory, as the team did not want to be beholden to the SSX universe. My money’s on a different publisher or maybe even an Xbox Game Studios acquisition.
Whatever it is, at well over a year in, I’m keen to see what they’ve been working on!
Now, am I saying that Supernatural Studios are secretly working on skate. right under our noses? No. At least I don’t think so.
But it’s clear that Steve decisively laid down the gauntlet in my interview with him — confirming that the future of this genre would be free-to-play. I should have put it altogether in my head sooner and realised that this was what would happen to skate.
Ubisoft was onto something with Riders Republic, even though it was a little rough around the edges, but to put a big recognizable name on the box (be it calling the game ‘skate.’ or saying its from the makers of SSX Tricky) and make it an always-on live service with no upfront cost would be a natural step forward.
The next couple of years are looking mighty tasty for extreme sports fans, provided nobody screws up the in-game economy.