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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Replaces Archaic Subway Tokens With Soon-To-Be-Archaic MetroCards

Illustration for article titled iTony Hawk’s Pro Skater/i Replaces Archaic Subway Tokens With Soon-To-Be-Archaic MetroCards
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, out today for PC, PlayStation4, and Xbox One, is a tour de force—a rare redux that modernizes the original games while staying true to what made them such hallmarks in the first place. The remaster has also, finally, after decades, brought Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 into… the early ‘90s?

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As you skated around levels in the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, you could find collectible items on each level. Finding all of them would earn you a small point or in-game currency bonus. The New York City level featured an item that, once upon a time, was a Big Apple staple: subway tokens.

This has remained largely unchanged in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, with one notable difference. As some locals have pointed out, in the remastered version, those collectibles have been updated to reflect a more modern fare payment system:

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The mag stripe, the corner cutout, the arrows helpfully indicating which direction to swipe—yes, that’s unmistakably a New York City Transit (NYCT) MetroCard. (Forget the fact that it reads “Subway Card.” While true that any New Yorker worth their salt knows to never call it a “subway card,” this is a video game with a lighthearted tone and licensing concerns to think about, so we can grant some leeway here.) No doubt, it’s amazing to see MetroCards get their fair due in Tony Hawk. But this is also an item that wouldn’t have been out of place in the original game.

When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 first came out, in 2000, the subway token was on the outs. At that point, MetroCards had been in use for the better part of a decade, having first been implemented in 1993. A year later, the IRT Lexington Avenue Line—the busiest line in the network and what you may know as the 4, 5, and 6 trains—was equipped with MetroCard turnstiles. By 1997, they were implemented across the whole system, and became the de facto form of fare payment for riding the NYCT subway. Subway tokens were phased out for good just three years after the game’s release. So it’s about time Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater included an update to reflect what you’d really find in the wallets of New Yorkers.

This facelift, however, is not designed to stand the test of time. The MetroCard itself is on an express train to obsolescence.

In 2019, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), NYCT’s governing body, rolled out an initiative called OMNY. A network-wide upgrade, OMNY is designed to replace the outmoded MetroCard with forms of contactless payment. At the stations currently outfitted with OMNY, you can tap a card (credit, debit, or prepaid) or a smart device (phone or watch) on a sensor to pay your fare. It’s a huge step toward making the NYCT subway as modern as basically every other metropolitan transit system on the planet.

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Currently, if you don’t have a payment card or smart device, you can’t use OMNY, and still have to rely on your trusty old MetroCard. But, as the New York Daily News reported late last year, the MTA plans on releasing plastic OMNY tap cards in 2021. The rollout to all 472 NYCT subway stations—plus the agency’s expansive network of buses—is scheduled to end in 2023, at which point MetroCards, like the subway tokens of 2003, will be phased out entirely.

Who knows? Maybe Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Extremely Gnarly Remastered Edition, out in 2035 for the PS7 and Xbox Series Z, will include the then-soon-to-be-phased-out OMNY as a collectible.

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Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

I wonder why they changed this but kept the VHS tapes. I guess VHS tapes are a little more iconic than subway tokens?