How Skate 4 could work as a live service game
We all know it’s going to happen. Skate 4 will be a live service game.
As much as your punk heart might not want to believe it, it’s true. Let’s look at the facts.
Fact #1: It’s being published by EA, which practically invented live service games.
Fact #2: Live service games make money.
Fact #3: See fact #2.
“But,” you’re probably saying, clutching your board, “Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 isn’t a live service game, even though it’s from Activision, and it’s getting great reviews.”
Yes, but Tony Hawk is a remaster. And while Activision has surely tried to turn remasters into full-blown live service experiences (see: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled), it generally doesn’t happen all that much.
Skate 4, meanwhile, is a whole new opportunity for EA to squeeze the ever-loving juice out of a beloved franchise. This is a reality we’re going to have to accept. It’s important we brace ourselves for it now, hardening our hearts in apprehension for an unfeeling future, sheltering ourselves against fear, yes, but also love.
What were we saying? Oh, right: Skate 4 will be a live service game. (Gasp!) But what will that actually look like?
Picking up where Skate 3 left off, we think it’s safe to assume that Skate 4 will have an even more persistently online world, especially since former Xbox Live head Dan McCulloch joined the development team. Where Skate 3 filled the players’ world with their friends’ characters, whether they were logged on or not, Skate 4 will likely take a Destiny– or Forza Horizon 4-style approach to online play.
For starters, this would open up the opportunity for random world events. As an example, players can gather at a skatepark at specific times to compete against one another in random competitions. Or players can gather for random Hall of Meat challenges, which is a feature that Skate 4 must have.
We also suspect that Skate 4 will expand the team system from Skate 3, similar to Destiny’s Fireteams or PGA Tour 2K21’s Clubhouses. Instead of just teaming up with friends, we expect players will be able to make much bigger teams. Players from those teams winning competitions can contribute the winnings to their teams so that everyone can earn rewards.
Making that Moolah
That’s great and all, but how will live service translate to money for EA? Why, with a season pass of course.
Skate 4 could easily translate to a season pass format. Making a certain amount of money by completing challenges could level up your season pass, which will unlock new cosmetics as well as sprinklings of paid currency that players can either put towards the next season pass or purchase cosmetics in the game’s store.
Fortnite perfected the formula, and EA followed suit with Apex Legends. It’s not rocket science at this point. (Heck, we even have ideas for a Skate battle royale, but that might be a topic for another article.)
But season passes will need new content in order to keep those butts in their seats. And the kind of content that makes sense for Skate 4 is an ever-expanding world map.
Skate 4 will likely launch with a large, open-world map. Instead of introducing new maps with every season, the developers can both change the existing map and add new sections to it throughout the game’s life cycle. These updates can bring with them new cosmetics, new challenges, and new limited-time modes.
Skate 4 will more than likely be a live service game, and it’s time we accept that. But as long as the developer can consistently add new content and new modes, it might not be a bad thing. We’ve waited so long for Skate 4, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if this game stuck around for a little while, and a live service is one way to ensure that.
Images: Skate 3, EA
Michael Goroff has written and edited for EGM since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter @gogogoroff.