We’re not getting any more Tony Hawk Pro Skater remakes, but what we are getting are Tony Hawk NFTs. The famed skater has done a deal with The Sandbox to create “the biggest skate park in the metaverse.”
The park, and the characters in it, are chunky and blocky, very much like the sort of thing you’d see in Minecraft. That’s not an issue in itself—obviously, Minecraft is pretty popular—but it does run counter to Hawk’s promise that “you have never seen skating like this.” The lack of imagination is less disappointing than the fact that this venture is focused on non-fungible tokens, the digital detritus that serves as a sort of nexus between crime, financial collapse, and environmental catastrophe.
“Autograph will create Tony Hawk avatar NFTs based on Tony Hawk and his most iconic skateboards, equipment, and apparel including the legendary skateboard Tony Hawk used to land the 900 at the X Games in 1999,” the announcement states. “The Sandbox will make these NFTs interoperable in its open metaverse, turning Autograph’s high-fidelity avatars into 3D voxel versions that have in-game functionality for experiences, adding utility and value for their owners.”
“Tony Hawk embodies the perseverance of constantly striving for improvement while never giving up, and it forged him into a skateboarding legend and successful entrepreneur,” The Sandbox co-founder Sebastien Borget said. “We share his passion for innovation, creativity, and the drive to constantly create something: this is the energy that powers our entertainment metaverse.”
The Sandbox, for those unfamiliar, began life in 2012 as a 2D open-world sandbox game for mobile devices, but transitioned into a voxel-style 3D world after its 2018 acquisition by Animoca Brands. It now describes itself as “part virtual real estate, part amusement park,” where “creators can monetize voxel assets and gaming experiences on the blockchain.” It’s done hundreds of previous deals with companies and individuals ranging from Warner Music and Gucci to The Walking Dead, Snoop Dogg, Atari, and Care Bears.
But seeing Tony Hawk among those other names is especially sad, because he always seemed so low-key cool: Great skater, obviously, but also reserved, gently self-deprecating, and connected to the community. Going from that to selling spots in Tony Hawk Land hits me as a little bit of a downer—especially coming so soon after Hawk revealed that Activision was planning on following up the excellent Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 remake with a redo of THPS 3 and 4, but opted to fold developer Vicarious Visions into Blizzard instead.