EA’s New Skate Is Free to Play Because of Course It Is

Skate 4 is going to be free to play, and maybe they'll let you do the Renegade off of a mega ramp.

Do you remember Skate? The series of video games that EA and their internal studio Black Box used to make in the late 2000s? The series that culminated with Skate 3, an arguably perfect game? Electronic Arts is making another one, and they’re calling it skate.

It’s going to come out on everything — Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, PC. It might even hit mobile after the console release. When is that release? Unclear. In a video released on the game’s YouTube channel on July 14, the dev team was explicit that they wouldn’t release the game “until it was ready.” As a person who has worked in this industry for a little bit, this probably means Holiday 2023. Oh, and one other thing: the new skate. will be free to play and monetized with cosmetic microtransactions. 

Wait, wait, come back.

Why are you freaking out? It’s fine. I think Skate 4 going free to play is legitimately and actually fine. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a good idea on EA and Full Circle’s part. The concept of adding microtransactions to a sports game is okay on paper! Charging players to personalize their characters (like Fortnite) is a fair way to monetize a free game. The line is drawn when those microtransactions have explicit gameplay effects, which EA actually knows a lot about.

Many of the games in the EA library during the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era were littered with microtransactions. Oh, you bought Skate 3 used? It’ll cost $10 to get the Online Pass. Do you want to play the competitive multiplayer mode in Dead Space 2? $10. Want to see the titties in The Saboteur? $10. EA built a well, and as soon as it was done, it pressed a button that released gallons of poison directly into the water. 

In the last 10 years, though, the landscape has changed, especially in the wake of EA’s horrendous handling of Star Wars: Battlefront II. Imagine you’re John EA (President of EA) in 2014 and I showed you this screenshot from the dev diary the skate. team put out today:

I want to be clear: allowing studios to forgo gameplay modifying microtransactions is a decision that EA made in service of its own bottom line and its reputation. The company EA is not kind and does not exist to do anything other than making money for its shareholders. This statement, however, is an explicit admission that EA fucked up, and that what EA thought was best for its revenue in the 2010s was a catastrophic failure. 

Ideally, the new skate. will model itself after Fortnite. The core game – the part where you do skateboarding – will be free. The game, the sport, and the legitimately chill and posi vibes that are a hallmark of the Skate franchise will now be accessible to a new, larger audience. That’s really exciting to me. The next Momiji Nishiya and Sky Brown will have the opportunity to be introduced to a sport they love while probably playing as the skaters they dream of being. 

Or maybe they’ll let you be Gibraltar from Apex Legends or whatever, I dunno.

Does EA deserve this trust? Probably not. But I really love Skate. And it seems like the people at Full Circle love it too. Being effective stewards of a franchise requires reverence for the source material and an ability to modernize what made the original entries so special. It took 343 three stabs at Halo before they figured it out. Let’s hope the developers behind skate. stomp this down on the first try.