How the world has changed since the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater came out on Sept. 29, 1999, and changed the video game landscape forever, both it and its sequel (Pro Skater 2) selling over a million copies on the Playstation in 2000. Kids who wanted to play Little League baseball the summer before were now begging their parents to buy them a skateboard and some ripped up jean shorts. Over the next 20 years, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater would become a worldwide phenomenon, with gamers young and old still trying to get "Superman" by Goldfinger out of their heads.

After five years on the shelf, Tony and his pro skating friends are back with the next main entry in the game's legendary series with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, a remaster of the first two games in the franchise. Before you dust off those ripped up jean shorts and pull out your original soundtrack CD in preparation for the Sept. 4 release, let's take a journey to the past and a look at the present at what has changed in the world of video games since Tony first dropped onto his virtual halfpipe.

Tony Hawk wasn't the only video game icon of the year 2000

As mentioned, Pro Skater and its sequel sold like gangbusters in 2000, both finding places in the top 10 for best-selling games of the year. For any other franchise, having two games in that position would make them the centerpiece of the video gaming world. And while Tony Hawk did become a cultural phenomenon in large part thanks to his video game franchise, there was one only thing he couldn't beat in the early 2000s: Pokémon.

In 2000, per IGN from that year, five of the top 10 best-selling games were from the Pokémon franchise. Pokémon Silver, Pokemon Gold, Pokémon Yellow (don't forget about Pikachu and Pokémon Stadium were No. 1 to No. 4, respectively. While not quite as big as it was in 2000, Pokémon continues to be a powerhouse in the video game world today, with its recent mainline releases, Pokemon Sword and Shield selling over 16 million copies in the first six weeks.

This begs the question -- we've seen Mario and Sonic team up to create some cross-brand video games together. When are Tony Hawk and Pikachu going to join their forces for a Pokémon-themed skateboarding game?

Goldfinger are still together and spreading the word of "Superman" to a new generation

The poster boys of the Tony Hawk soundtrack, Goldfinger, are not only still around playing their best hits but even put out a new album back in 2017. And when the world needed them most, during the current global pandemic that's kept many inside for months on end, Goldfinger has even started releasing videos on their Youtube channel as part of a "quarantine series" where they're playing their classics for the millions stuck inside. It doesn't matter if it's 1999 or 2050, "Superman" is timeless and as long as Tony Hawk's legacy continues in the form of video games, so will Goldfinger.

Traditional sports have changed drastically

Back when the first Tony Hawk game dropped on the Playstation, Tom Brady was still a few months away from being drafted by the New England Patriots to begin their almost two-decade dynasty. Later in 2000, the St. Louis Rams would defeat the Tennessee Titans to become the NFL champions. 2020? The Rams are in Los Angeles and the reigning league MVP, Lamar Jackson, was a two-year-old.

1999 would be the year the New York Knicks made an improbable run to the NBA championship as a No. 8 seed. Since losing to the San Antonio Spurs in that championship, Tony Hawk and the Knicks have lived opposite lives -- Hawk and his video game franchise have become synonymous with excellence, while the Knicks ... have not.

Skateboarding has seen an entire shift from Pro Skater's release to today, moving from the underground to becoming mainstream pop culture. A scene that was once dominated by 20-somethings has also become younger and younger as the years have gone by -- most recently, an 11-year-old named Sky Brown won a bronze medal at the World Skateboarding Championship in São Paulo, Brazil.

Esports have also changed drastically

In 1999, competitive video games and people watching them were a tiny niche inside another tiny, but ever-growing niche. Fighting game legend Daigo Umehara was still a teenager and hustling peers in arcade halls with Street Fighter Alpha 3 populating the tournament scene. Quake II was one of the more popular competitive gaming titles, with players like Boniface "Kuin" Danan and Kurt "Immortal" Shimada playing for thousands of dollars, a radical concept at the time in North America. Dennis "Thresh" Fong was revered by traditional news media in the late 90s by the fact that he had made almost $100,000 from playing Doom and Quake.

Nowadays, the average year salary for a player in the League Championship Series, the premier esports league in North America, is over $400,000, with the top players making over $1 million a year in salary alone. Players are becoming executives and co-owners of multi-millionaire dollar businesses with billionaires investing in the competitive gaming scene with a new esports team popping up every other week with hefty money behind them.

Per the website EsportsEarnings, which tracks prize money for esports events throughout the years, Canadian StarCraft: Brood War player Guillaume "Grrrr..." Patry made the most in 1999 with over $35,000 from his tournament victories in South Korea. Two decades later, Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf, won a single Fortnite event and received $3 million in prize money.

How old was Bugha when Pro Skater came out? Well, uh, he was still three years away from being born.

Time flies when you're shredding "Superman" and playing Pokémon Silver on the Gameboy Color you just got for Christmas.