The scenario: You’re cruising in a stolen car, running over pedestrians and shooting at random strangers. You hear a song you like on the radio. Wouldn’t it be awesome to download it?
Rockstar Games and Amazon.com hope so. They’re introducing a partnership for Grand Theft Auto IV that lets players mark songs they hear on GTA’s in-game soundtrack — then head to Amazon’s music store store, where they can download the track in MP3 form, for $.89 to $.99 cents.
Rockstar, a subsidiary of Take-Two (TTWO), and Amazon (AMZN) are hoping to cash in a phenomenom that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are already exploiting: Music sales as video game extensions. So far players of Rock Band, for instance, have downloaded more than 6 million songs at $2 a piece.
The key difference between GTAIV and the music games, though: The music downloads are key components to the video games — order up a new song and you’ve just extended your gameplay. The GTA songs are just songs. On the other hand, unlike the Rock Band and Guitar Hero downloads, the GTA songs are DRM-free, so you can do whatever you want with them once you’ve bought them — put them on your iPod, burn them on a CD, etc.
No details on the economics: Normally Amazon would split song revenues 70/30 with the music labels, but in this case they’re also working with the game publisher, so the pie will get cut at least one more time. Rockstar says it’s offering 150 songs – including some rare ones, and some recorded specifically for Grand Theft Auto, which comes out April 29.