According to Tony Hawk, the billion dollar, 20 game legacy of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was very close to not happening at all.
On a recent podcast, Hawk said that, months before he got the call from Activision that led to the Pro Skater series, another company contacted him with an idea for a "more technically difficult" skating game.
"They were trying to truly emulate skating," said Hawk, "and I felt like I understood that approach, but at the same time, skating wasn't that big when we released this game, or when we were going to release this game, and I wanted something that would be more friendly to the non-skater to play, to understand, to be able to pick up and start doing tricks."
A more simmy approach to skateboarding is perhaps best embodied today by Session, but I imagine the PS1-era attempt may have been a little rough.
Hawk said that when he tried Activision's prototype, it felt intuitive and "innately right." Still, if the company had called "a month or two later," he says he might've already signed a deal to make the other game, and the Pro Skater series never would've happened.
During the interview, Hawk also said that Activision attempted to buy out his future royalties just before THPS launched. Despite being offered half a million dollars, he turned it down. Good decision!
If you don't follow Hawk n Twitter, I highly recommend it. It's mostly stories about people not recognizing him in airports, or asking if he was named after a videogame—he's a master not only of his craft, but in the art of staying humble. I wonder what skateboarding games would be like now had he gone the simulation route and I never spent hours of my teenage life eating shit attempting 900s from my couch?