Those who say the music industry is dead would seem to have been validated by last year’s sales information: the biggest selling artist of 2009 was the late Michael Jackson, and he was also the star of biggest concert film in history. Now it seems that the King of Pop is enjoying even more posthumous accolades: Ubisoft is reportedly creating a music game based around the controversial but always entertaining megastar.
The next question is if the music game industry is dead. Green Day’s Rock Band was recently released by Harmonix, and in 2009, the Beatles iteration was released to less than stellar sales. Other music games have fared about the same, the thinking is that once you have a music-based game, why would you buy another? After the huge initial success, it appears that the genre is stagnating. Ubisoft hopes to change this by offering fans the chance to dance like Jackson, earn points, and listen to his most popular tunes.
Ubisoft marketing executive Tony Key says, “I don’t have any doubt that a dance game based on Michael Jackson’s music will reinvigorate the music category. The great part about the dance category is that the barrier to entry is much lower. You don’t need a guitar. You don’t need anything. You buy the game and you play it.” Mr. Key adds that while all of the songs to make it on the games are as yet unknown, they will likely include “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.”
Other details, like the price, exact release date, title, and number of songs remains unknown, but it seems that the game will be out in time for 2010’s holiday season. The game will be able to use motion sensors to “watch” players dance and score their movements. But Key is quick to point out that you aren’t recreating the video here, and in fact, there will be no full-length videos on the game. Jackson’s estate is limiting the licensing rights, excluding his likeness and “learning” the songs.
It’s been over 20 years since Jackson starred in his own video game. In 1988, Moonwalker hit Sega and Jackson moonwalked through enemies to rescue children. According to the LA Times, even Jackson’s pet chimp, Bubbles, was included in the game as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal,” and other tracks played.
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