Tuesday, April 7, 2009

magical mystery tour

After much anticipation and speculation, Beatles: Rock Band is set for worldwide release on September 9th of this year, marking the first video game licensing of The Beatles music. The game, which will be immediately available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii, will take players through the history of the band and will feature the entire music catalog.

According to Harmonix (the company that develops Rock Band) CEO Alex Rigopulos, Beatles: Rock Band seeks to deliver something a bit more experiential than just song licensing: "we're trying to create something that is an art object, that's really an extension of the Beatles' music into another medium." As a means to this end, the project includes collaborations with those closest to the source, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. MTV Games and Harmonix have also announced "a limited number of new hardware offerings modeled after instruments used by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr throughout their career." Time to get practicing your sitar scales, mates.

The implications of Beatles: Rock Band are many and reach well beyond the obvious news-worthy excitement around the opening of The Beatles catalog for...well, anything. As the insightful 'entrepreneur's entrepreneur' Charles Planck pointed out, "the big coup for the publishers is that the game concept strikes squarely in the heart of a much older, non-traditional gaming market - the pre-Atari’s - and gets them into gaming in a way that I don’t think anything else could."

Certainly, there's a multi-generational appeal to the music only heightened by other recent Beatles projects, including the Cirque du Soleil show LOVE, creating a significant market expansion for The Beatles enterprise, and likewise with Rock Band, the gaming industry. The music of this era is in high demand in the industry for this very reason. According to Entertainment Weekly, "In June...Alex Rigopulos put the Beatles at the top of his artist wish list, along with Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and the Rolling Stones; 'titanic bands of that era that have a special place in people's hearts.'" MTV president Van Toffler sums it up: "We’ve been waiting, as everybody else in the world has been waiting, to get their music."

Rock Band = 1, iTunes = 0.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good piece, but I don't think the EW link is the right one...

I'd buy this in a hastened heartbeat for my kids if I didn't have to buy all the instruments as well -- the video clips I've seen look gorgeous and totally in sync w/ the Beatles brand, which, really, transcends branding.