If you’re into the hardcore online shooting scene, chances are pretty good that you play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The latest incarnation of the most popular shooter series on the planet is also highly prevalent on competitive gaming circuits. Those same professional gamers also use equipment from Turtle Beach, the top provider of gaming headphones. It’s a natural combination then that both work together on what could only be dubbed the largest launch of a licensed gaming headset series ever. We talked with Michael Arzt, VP Marketing and Business Development at Turtle Beach, about the team up with Activision.
Give me some background on the collaboration you’ve had with Activision over Call of Duty.
Back in March of 2011 we introduced a real game changer into the headset market, the Ear Force PX5 and have since followed it with two related models, the PX3 in June and the XP500, which has just hit the market. What makes these products so special is that they all feature programmable game audio and chat settings that can be customized for specific game titles and switched on the fly. Think of how everyone knows how to change their weapons on the fly, but now they can do the same with their game audio settings.
This had never been done before and it has now opened up a whole new world for game designers. Going into this project we knew we needed to be sure of three things: first, the results had to live up to Turtle Beach’s legacy of innovation as well as Activision’s own high standards for one of the biggest entertainment properties of the year; second, we had to go further than just a simple licensed product and so have produced headsets that integrates and enhances game play; and, third, it had to be a true collaboration.
Ear Force PX5
Being teamed up with the biggest game of the year certainly helps.
Fortunately, collaborating with the MW3 brand and development teams at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer has been a great process from start to finish. We worked together on everything from choosing headset models and CMF (colors, materials and finish) profiles for each, to package concepts and product names. As the headsets came together, we secured the advanced audio preset settings and character voice prompts that take the high end models to another level. The MW3 flagship model, the Ear Force DELTA, has a true “personality” all its own. Any Call of Duty fan already familiar with our conventional PX5 and XP500 models will get a pleasant surprise when the headset boots up with a gruff “Ear Force Delta powering on” spoken by Call of Duty military consultant Hank Keirsey. Likewise, the MW3 optimized presets created by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer will pull players into the Modern Warfare 3 experience even further.
Having everyone involved treating this like a true partnership, with shared vision and passion for the end product, is what made this possible. The results are some of the greatest game audio products available, which transcend traditional logoed licensed goods to become an integral part of the ultimate Modern Warfare 3 experience.
Talk to me about the opportunity to work on material for Modern Warfare 3, probably the biggest game of the year.
When Turtle Beach made the commitment to start looking at licensing opportunities, we felt it was important to create co-branded products that offered something unique. As the pioneers and leaders in the game audio space, we need to always keep pushing forward with our products and deliver innovations that will excite consumers.
There are only a few games that have the market gravitas and recognition level we were looking for with our first licensed venture. The way we see it, the culture of the MW3 community is in tune with our own culture and makes a great fit. This is a fully immersive game with a true blockbuster cinema approach that fully showcases all the incredible benefits of premium headsets; especially during co-op play over XBL, PSN or the internet, where precise directional cues during game play, crystal clear communication and atmospheric audio that you can feel down to your bones can all make a huge difference. Some of the technology we’ve pioneered, like the Sonic Lens and Sound Field Expander, can bring out the most subtle audio cues and expand or narrow the field of game audio, giving players unparalleled levels of control over the experience.
So it was important to you to integrate an enhance the specific experience of the game.
We were very fortunate to be able to partner with Activision for these Modern Warfare 3 headsets. Not only is it the biggest title of the year, but it will introduce a whole new segment of avid gamers to the benefits and increased enjoyment of games that Turtle Beach headsets provide. Iconic game brands like Call of Duty are rare and offer us great opportunities to forge memorable partnerships that resonate with the community.
What other games has Turtle Beach produced headsets for over the years
The Ear Force Modern Warfare 3 line is the first officially licensed headset models from Turtle Beach, and we feel it has uniquely altered the standard for what a licensed game audio product can be. But prior to this, our headsets have always been great for all games and we have forged many wonderful and lasting relationships with an assortment of publishers, developers and other gaming companies over the years. We have done retail promotions, event integrations, online and social media campaigns, advertising and more with many major game titles. Notable partner programs in the recent past have included Halo: Reach, Star Wars the Force Unleashed II, Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, Duke Nukem Forever, and Batman: Arkham City, to name a few. Further notable programs include companies like Marvel Entertainment, Intel and Nvidia with more great partnerships on the way.
Ear Force DELTA
Detail some of the elements of working with these different developers.
One especially exciting and easy collaboration model is made possible by Turtle Beach’s proprietary programmable Digital Signal Processor (DSP) technology found in the models I mentioned earlier. With the XP500 or PX5 headset connected to a console and our proprietary audio software in hand, a game developer can make custom presets in minutes that bring the exact audio experience they desire to the end player. This capability opens their games’ fans to new levels of immersion and enjoyment through the XP500/PX5 and PX3 platforms. At the launch of the PX5, we partnered with the Dead Space 2 audio team to create presets that put players into Isaac’s helmet and others that gave them the necromorph’s unique audio experience, while still others further enhanced the eeriest elements of the game’s already incredible sound design. We welcome and embrace those kinds of retail and community collaborations, as well as the bigger, more formal co-branded product opportunities, because they all serve the ultimate goal of making games more accessible and fun through better audio.
Stay tuned for part 2!
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