Tony Hawk Annualization Didn't Hurt The Series, Neversoft Says
"I just think you wanna have fun, work hard, and capitalize on it if you have something like that."
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Developer Neversoft, which was recently folded into Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward and no longer exists on its own, released a new Tony Hawk game every year in the nine-year stretch from 1999 to 2007 (chart below). The series is now on hiatus and there is no telling when it will return. Don't blame the annualization of the series for why it's now on the shelf, however, according to Neversoft co-founder Joel Jewett.
"I disagree with that," Jewell told Game Informer in response to a question about whether or not the annualization of the series hurt the Tony Hawk brand overall. "It's hard to catch lightning in a bottle, and if you do, you just wanna run. The world's going to change. Like right now, is skateboarding as popular as it was at that time? No. I just think you wanna have fun, work hard, and capitalize on it if you have something like that."
"We could've tried to make it last forever and we would've made, like, four games, and it would have had the same lifespan" -- Joel Jewett
Jewett said you can't make something that lasts forever because "the world changes." Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick might disagree, as he has spoken previously about the Grand Theft Auto series being a "permanent" franchise, similar in nature to the long-running James Bond movie series.
"When we quit making the Tony Hawk games, you essentially hit a point in time where our games split the market with Skate, and the market had actually shrunk by then," he said. "People had been there, done that--they're looking for something new. If you were trying to make something last forever, the world changes. We could've tried to make it last forever and we would've made, like, four games, and it would have had the same lifespan."
Elsewhere in the feature, Jewett recalled the day Activision came to Neversoft with the idea for the Tony Hawk series. "They said, 'Hey, there are a ton of people running around with skateboards these days. We did some tests on it. Do you think you guys could make a skateboarding game?' That suited the attitude and vibe of Neversoft," Jewett said.
After the success of Tony Hawk, Neversoft worked on other massive franchises like Guitar Hero and Call of Duty, most recently doing work on Extinction mode for Call of Duty: Ghosts. Though the company is most famous for Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, it had ambitions for its own new IP, as well. Jewett teased, "We worked on a first-person shooter [after Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and before Call of Duty: Ghosts]," he said, explaining that he's not allowed to say more (even though he did). "Let me put it this way, and I think I can say it. We worked on a first-person shooter during that period of time, and hindsight behind 20/20, I think it was freaking awesome and we did some killer work. There are other people out there that would corroborate that. I think it would be cool if people knew more about it...that's all."
Jewett is leaving game development altogether to "come up for some air" after being heads-down in game development for the past two decades. He leaves the company alongside studio director Scott Pease, who is also stepping away from games.