Last year, Activision's long-standing Tony Hawk franchise received a wake-up call in the from of Skate from publishing archrival Electronic Arts. While neither game struck critics particularly well, EA's contender took the slight edge, prompting Activision to say in February that it would be "re-engineering the franchise." In a postearnings conference call today, Activision reiterated its plans to enliven the franchise, saying it would be "reinventing Tony Hawk from the ground up."
According to Activision, gamers will get their first look at the tinkered-with Tony Hawk formula in an exclusive Nintendo DS edition slated for release this year. The publisher gave no hard details on the game, other than saying that it would be independent from any console title, and "utilize new technology not yet seen on the DS." Activision did not indicate whether this "new technology" for the DS would be seen under the hood or manifest as a new peripheral similar to that used for Guitar Hero: On Tour, which will be released June 22.
While annualized franchises are often considered the lifeblood of publishing giants such as Activision, the publisher also said today that it would be sitting the next console installment out a year "to deliver the kind of breakthrough this franchise needs." Activision is targeting the game for release in its fiscal year 2010, which ends March 31, 2010. Traditionally, though, Tony Hawk games have released in the holiday quarter, making a late-'09 launch likely.
If details on the new DS installment were considered light, information on the new console edition was nonexistent. "For competitive reasons, we're not going to talk about it today, but we're very bullish on the kind of innovation this will bring," said Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith. "And this won't be your father's Tony Hawk."