Nintendo Rejected Tony Hawk’s Game Pitch, Talks How He Ended With Activision & Neversoft

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Looking at the career of Tony Hawk, it’s hard to imagine that he once was facing some troubling times. While a big name today, nearly three decades ago he was just a guy hanging with a bunch of other guys trying to popularize skateboarding. A difficult task that was meet with much criticism, that they had eventually overcame. This eventually lead to the idea of creating a video game, so that everyone could experience the rush of Skateboarding. However, it would seem that despite being a growing name at the time, his pitch to develop a skateboarding game was meet with just as many issues as when he first started his career..

Pretending I’m a Superman,” a documentary that goes behind the scenes of the legendary Tony Hawk Pro Skater game, released today. In it, we were given a detailed history about how the game came to fruition, along with the companies that approached Tony Hawk for his skateboarding pitch.

Tony Hawk: I got approached by a PC developer that wanted to do a video game based on Skateboarding.  And he had a very crude engine. It was all keyboard commands. He asked if I would go pitch this idea to different publishing companies and just came up against a lot of hesitation. A lot of negativity. People just said you know Skateboarding is just not popular. Why would a skateboarding game be popular?

He finally gave up on it and said look, I can’t go any further with this, but your name is out there now for the video game companies. And he was right. I got a call from Nintendo to come up and talk to them. They said no (he laughs).

As it so happened, around this same time Neversoft was finding a reasonable amount of success with Activision working under their  wing that the publisher had asked the team to start working on a skateboarding game. This eventually lead to them wanting a big name tied to the project, which just so happened to be Tony Hawk.

Scott Pease , Former NeverSoft Producer: I had been working with Neversoft on a game called Apocalypse., and then around that time in the halls of Activision there was an idea to do a skateboarding game.  So, we kind of got that going. We hired Neversoft to start building a demo. And then we started to look for who we can attach to that project to kind of make it a bigger deal. So we were looking at some magazines, and some personalities and it just seemed like Tony hawk was the guy.

This was when Activision and Neversoft decided to reach out to Tony Hawk to pitch their skateboarding game to him.

“I got a call from Take-Two”, Tony Hawk said,  “which is now Rockstar Games. And they wanted to work on a game and I liked what they were doing, but their game seemed a little too difficult to master. It was as hard as skateboarding to learn almost and so I’d felt like that’s not really the, the hook that’s gonna bring in a whole new audience to skateboarding.  Activision called me and said we are working on a game, we heard you might be working on another game, we would like you to come see what we’re doing.”

As the story that has been told before, Neversoft showed Tony the demo of movie star Bruce Willis skateboarding in a wasteland. Tony Hawk immediately was hooked as soon as he began playing, describing the demo to be fun and intuitive. The rest, as we say, is history.

While the idea of Nintendo or Rockstar Games developing a skateboarding game with the backing of Tony hawk could have been an exciting one, we are glad it turned out the way it did. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 and 2 are perhaps the most beloved skating games in history. So much so, that Activision is finally re-releasing them in a full HD remake. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is releasing on September 4 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.