At least in North America, today was the first day that the general public could buy Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground. Even though, at least in my opinion, skate. and THPG come at skateboarding in completely different directions, both the media and the gaming public have pitted each game against each other in some fierce competition. In reality, I hope there is room in the marketplace for two skateboarding games, one offering a more realistic experience while the other goes for a more over the top style.

It’s interesting to note however, that there has been very little marketing for THPG. Behind Guitar Hero, I would guess Hawk has been Activision’s best money-maker. Given that, you’d think that Activision would have cranked up the hype machine right up to a feverish pitch to coincide with this week’s release date. At least to me, this appears to have not happened. There is the obligatory web site but that’s standard. Activision also released a demo (which didn’t include a lot of anticipated features). They apparently aired one commercial during the Monday Night football game. A few web sites got to play THPG but these previews were published at the tail end of the summer. It’s actually almost eerie how quiet things have been in the Hawk camp for the last several weeks. For something that’s the perennial blockbuster, why go silent for weeks before and including launch?

It’s possible that Activision is trying something new and keeping the hype to a minimum and just letting the game (and the demo) speak for itself. I’m not a marketing guy but something tells me that’s not the reason.

The most interesting thing about all of this is the lack of reviews for THPG. The standard operating procedure for game development is to release review copies of a game to web and print publications days or even weeks in advance of the launch. The reason for this is to have these reviews ready for consumers to read on or before the big day. So if on Tuesday, I read that game XYZ got seven reviews with 9/10, I’ll lean towards getting XYZ since reviewers have played it and liked it. It’s usually a good idea to get your game out early to reviewers because for the most part, it will help sales.

So back to THPG now. As of early Wednesday morning, there are no reviews of THPG anywhere online. You can check Metacritic and GameRankings but neither site has anything. The word on the street is that Activision did not send out any review copies to any reviewers. Now they might have but embargoed the reviews until later this week. I really don’t know what this means and all I can do is speculate which I won’t do here. Is this a good sign or a bad one? Who knows at this point?

All of this could be moot by next week however. If seven days pass and THPG sells 100K copies on next-gen then no one will really care about reviews. Or the reviews will come in (and they will) and nothing but praise will be showered upon THPG, thus leading to massive sales.

What happens, this is a very interesting week and I look forward to every twist and turn! In the end, I hope there’s room for everyone up top.

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