UPDATE 2: Turns out the WSJ—and the FT, EW, NY Times and NY Post—was right. MTV announced this morning that it’s creating a version of its Rock Band game featuring the Beatles’ music. The game should be on sale by the end of next year. The full press release is here.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal says the rumours are true. According to anonymous sources close to the situation, natch, the big MTV-Beatles announcement tomorrow is that MTV has licensed the Beatles’ music for use in its Rock Band video game. (Take that, Guitar Hero!) Indeed, the deal is a major win for MTV and Viacom in its battle for music video game supremacy against Activision-Blizzard, which makes Guitar Hero.
But more importantly, obviously this deal would mark the first time that songs from the Beatles highly successful catalogue were made widely available digitally. And as our former colleague Peter Kafka pointed out this summer, putting your music on a video game as opposed to making it available to download through a retailer like iTunes is a safer way to test the digital waters: you can price song downloads for more than the standard 99-cent rate, and because the music’s only available within the game, you don’t risk cannibalising future sales.
Nonetheless, there’s a lot that’s still unknown about this deal, most of which will probably be revealed during tomorrow’s teleconference. But one thing that’s still unclear is whether these songs will be available for download or simply pre-loaded into the game. If it’s the latter, the announcement’s not as groundbreaking as it could be because then the Beatles still wouldn’t have made its music available for digital sales.
EW.com hears that the songs won’t be available for digital download but couldn’t get a rep for Harmonix, the company that developed Rock Band, to confirm any of the information in its story.
EW.com hears that the game will be a stand-alone disc, like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (which has moved more than a million units since its June 2008 release), as opposed to downloadable content. Whether it will also include the band members’ likenesses is still unclear, although the game will feature different eras of the band’s career visually, starting with the black-and-white feel of the early ’60s, and moving into the mod Rubber Soul years, Yellow Submarine, and their final hippie phase. (No word yet on whether the game will introduce new instruments, but here’s hoping for a plastic sitar.)
The rest of the Entertainment Weekly story contains an interesting account of how this deal came together and what the Beatles on Rock Band means for MTV Games. We recommend you check it out.
Anyways, we’ll be listening at 10 a.m. and let you know the specifics when we find out what they are.
EARLIER: rumours are running rampant that MTV may reveal tomorrow morning that they’ve licensed the Beatles’ music for use in its Rock Band video game, marking the group’s first foray into the digital era.
Billboard: The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. and MTV have scheduled a press teleconference tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. ET to announce “an exclusive agreement to develop a global music project.”
Although the announcement does not offer details on the agreement, representatives for the Beatles have been talking to MTV’s “Rock Band” team for months.
If a deal is signed, “Rock Band” will have secured two of the top-selling catalogue bands of all time for versions of the game. AC/DC recently became the subject of a “Rock Band Track Pack,” featuring 18 live versions of hits like “Thunderstruck and “Back in Black.” The title, like the band’s new album, “Black Ice,” is a Wal-Mart exclusive.
Is it true? We’ll find out tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.
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