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How one bad joke morphed Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 into the ill-fated BMX XXX

Motherboard explores the story of an IP that was ultimately corrupted by what should’ve been a throwaway joke and the developer contractually obligated to bring the resulting game to life.
"One thing that is a common misconception in the game industry itself is that if an independent developer makes a game, then it's their idea, they stand behind it, they believe in all the content.”

- Z-Axis lead designer Tin Guerrero shares his experience with BMX XXX

Motherboard recently spoke with a number of people involved in the raunchy extreme sports game BMX XXX, including folks on both the development and publishing ends of the affair, to explore how and why the game came to be.

The story of BMX XXX is a strange one, to say the least, but it does tell the interesting tale of an IP that was ultimately corrupted by what should’ve been a throwaway joke and the developer contractually obligated to bring the resulting game to life.

As the story goes, Acclaim executive producer Shawn Rosen was the one to pitch the idea of a BMX game to his employer. Eventually, he brought the development studio Z-Axis on board and was able to welcome Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX into the world in 2000. Down the line, Acclaim was toying with the idea of creating an M-rated game that harnessed the same kind of humor as the Jackass series.

"Acclaim was in dire straits: They really needed the game to do well,” former Acclaim marketing coordinator Zach Smith told Motherboard. “I think that was a main driver behind the decision to put nudity into the game. 'This is something that's going to get a lot of PR, good or bad, no matter what we do.”

The publisher believed that pushing the envelope would be a foolproof way to stand out in the then-saturated extreme sports genre of video games. While in that state of mind, one employee made a mid-meeting joke about putting strippers in a BMX game and the seed for BMX XXX was planted.

The game itself featured both digital and live-action nudity and made a show of speckling each level with distinctly M-rated characters and situations. According to Motherboard, Dave Mirra would eventually pull out of the project for the sake of his personal brand and would later go on to sue Acclaim for breach of contract over the game's borderline pornographic themes.

"One thing that is a common misconception in the game industry itself is that if an independent developer makes a game, then it's their idea, they stand behind it, they believe in all the content. They're making it for themselves," said lead designer Tin Guerrero.  "No. We were paid by Acclaim to make BMX XXX. As much as people think that the people at Z-Axis were crazy for coming up with this idea, we were contracted to make this idea."

As strange as the tale may be, the full story over at Motherboard paints an interesting picture of both the game development world at the time of BMX XXX and the number of strange decisions that took the game from being featured on the cover of magazines to being banned from the shelves of major retailers. 

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