Music Games Are A Fad

From IndustryGamers: {link no longer active}

Media giant Viacom has announced its fiscal results for the second quarter ended June 30. From a game industry perspective, the most interesting aspect of this of course ties into MTV Networks, which publishes the popular Rock Band franchise from Harmonix. Sales at the Media Networks division (home to MTV Networks) dropped 8 percent for the period to $1.97 billion. The cause Viacom put most of the blame on “a 41 percent decline in ancillary revenues driven by lower sales of the music video game Rock Band.”

If you thought music games were anything but a fad, you may want to think again.

Music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are already down over 30 percent worldwide, and companies like Viacom and Activision are scratching their heads wondering why their golden goose is feeling sick.

We have a couple of reasons:

Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour were just not that different from their originals, so why bother upgrading, especially if I can download all the same tunes anyway?
– Gamers are probably feeling a bit burned as they head to Gamestop to trade in their plastic instruments in hopes of upgrading to newer ones, only to find their $100+ purchases reduced to $2 prices.

Can anything stop the bleeding Activision is pinning its hopes on the upcoming hip-hop focused DJ Hero, complete with turntable, while MTV Games is hope The Beatles Rock Band makes the Harmonix deal well worth it.

Time will tell if gamers have already changed their tune. (See what I did there )

Xbox Heats Up With Summer Promotion

Kotaku reports:

U.S. Xbox 360 owners who shell out the 5600 Microsoft Points necessary to net them Splosion Man, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Turtles in Time Re-shelled, Trials HD, and Shadow Complex between now and August 31 will get an extra 800 Microsoft points added to their account, basically cancelling out the price of Splosion Man.

Microsoft is making its push to convert Xbox consumers into regular DLC patrons even stronger with this promotion, which we ve never seen before.

This amounts to gamers spending $80 for virtual goods getting $10 back for their trouble.  Anything to get consumers accustomed to a new distribution method, huh?

Hollywood and Games: Infamous Gets Picked Up

From The Hollywood Reporter: {link no longer active}

Screenwriter Sheldon Turner is becoming even more “inFAMOUS.”

Sony Pictures has pre-emptively picked up a pitch from Turner to adapt the Sucker Punch Prods. video game into a feature film. The deal is for seven figures.

The studio is working out a deal for rights to the game, which was published by sister company Sony Computer Entertainment.

Avi Arad and Ari Arad will produce. Sony executives Matt Tolmach and Jonathan Kadin are handling for the studio.

Infamous already has a comic book line and soundtrack collection, with games like Assassin’s Creed II and the Halo series following suit with similar multimedia initiatives later this year.

Is this the future of gaming?   Buy the game, but don’t forget the comic, DVD series, anime, soundtrack, toothbrush and cereal?

Facebook And Twitter On Xbox 360 For Holidays

Sorry, Myspace.

Microsoft announced Twitter and Facebook were coming to the Xbox 360 at this year s E3, and Eurogamer is now reporting that heavy work is being done to get the two social platforms enabled by the end of the year.

[Microsoft marketing’s James] Halton did go on to say, “It will be before Christmas.” He added, “A lot of the background work’s been done for a lot of applications that are coming.”

Netflix is already enabled on Xbox 360, and should hit by the end of the year, all of which will be important additions to the ever-improving Xbox suite of features.

Meanwhile, Sony has a web browser but no integration on any of these fronts (yet), and the market-leading Nintendo Wii can hardly get an online game to play well.  Connecting with the connected demographic is getting away from these two companies as Microsoft looks to steal away even more of their free time.

Special Edition Watch: DJ Hero

Special editions used to be special, but then marketing and development costs for these games reached all new highs.  What’s an honest publisher to do?   Overcharge for a bunch of plastic, of course!

Activision just showed off its special edition of the upcoming DJ Hero, and there are two major differences.  First, you get a Jay-Z/Eminem CD with a bunch of unreleased (for now) tracks.  Secondly, you get a nicer turntable controller complete with a case that turns into a stand.

The regular edition of the game will retail for $120, but no price has been announced for this pack.

We have to ask: is anyone else afraid of this trend of more and more upsells or a potential consumer backlash, or is this par for the course now

Depeche Mode In Left 4 Dead 2

From Kotaku:

Surely, I thought, when first seeing the band’s likeness and logo emblazoned on her tee, that wouldn’t last very long. But that Depeche Mode cameo is intentional and it’s authorized.

…The band was very free with letting Valve use its likeness, its audio recordings, and, obviously, its t-shirts in the game.

Music and gaming have had a very valuable relationship that has grown in recent years thanks to Rock Band and Guitar Hero, so it s not surprising a big name band like Depeche Mode feels being in a zombie game is advantageous.

They recently released their twelfth studio album, Sounds of the Universe, so common sense dictates it would be a very smart marketing move for the band to try and gain new audience through any media possible.

Twitter Who?

From The Los Angeles Times:

Of the 2,025 U.S. adults surveyed, 69% said they didn’t know enough about Twitter to comment on the service.

Compare that to just 17% of advertisers who admitted to not knowing much about the website — a group whose colleagues would, if they found out about said confession, probably take them out back “Old Yeller” style.

We get it, you and everyone you know are on Twitter, but this circle of friends is pretty tight, and it takes stories like this to remind you that yes, there are people outside the Twittersphere.  Way outside.

If anything, these numbers should serve to tone down the unabashed love Twitter receives from marketing and business folks who have yet to uncover its true (if there is any) potential.

But if you re a Twitter believer and think the micro-blogging platform is the wave of the future, just remember, the majority of your consumers don t even know what it is, even if Oprah is on it.

Just make sure, when you talk Twitter with consumers, you tell them exactly what that means to them.

Quick, Name Today’s Most Popular Sports Figure

From AdWeek:

And being retired as a player for the better part of a decade hasn’t stopped Michael Jordan from scoring strongly when people are asked to cite their favorite sports stars. Jordan comes in at No. 2 in a Harris Poll that posed the favorite-sports-star question, topped only by Tiger Woods, who makes his fourth straight appearance in the No.  1 spot. Filling out the top five were LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter.

Basketball accounted for three of respondents’ top 10 picks. Nascar had two, with Jeff Gordon at No. 5 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at No. 8. Baseball also had two, with Albert Pujols (No. 10) joining Jeter on the list. So did football: Peyton Manning at No. 7 and (despite his undistinguished season for the New York Jets) Brett Favre at No. 9. Tiger Woods was the lone golfer in the top 10.

Even with Michael Jordan out of the NBA for several years now, his brand still resonates with consumers.  We think that’s as much a testament to Nike’s marketing machine as it is to his skills on the court.

When turning to female athletes, Serena and Venus took the top two spots. Now Syndicating To YouTube, NBC

From Ad Age: {link no longer active}

The company, purveyor of little web shows such as “Nostalgia Critic,” “Epic Fu,” “Average Betty” and 48,000 others (seriously), is inventing its version of a TV network for a fractured media world where viewers gravitate to shows that appeal directly to who they are; the opposite of what may be TV’s last true megahit, “American Idol.”

Whereas companies like Revision3 try to create slick, heavily-produced shows that number in the single digits, is carving out a niche as a syndicator of user-created shows.

Their recent deal with YouTube, Roku and NBC shows a different way of looking at user-created content.  Instead of companies staying put with their own portals, is all about increasing the distribution of these shows as much as possible.

Costs are kept low as users are the ones footing the production bill, and revenue from syndication and other opportunities are split down the line, 50/50.

Is this a model we can see being applied to video games   We see a slam dunk when it comes to a model like Xbox Live Indie Games, a story we reported on a few days ago.

Instead of companies tackling the actual content creation, the next big thing is always being developed in some garage or basement.  If companies like can focus on syndication, it could be a mutually beneficial relationship that can be applied to multiple mediums, including video games.

Yahoo! Rebrands Itself… Again

Take a look at this new rebranding video for the new Yahoo! and see if it strikes you as inherently Yahoo!

{video link no longer active}

This is a long way from the weird yodeling and garish designs synonymous with dot-com bubble-era Yahoo! It seems the search engine and e-mail giant is trying (again) to connect with audiences by ditching their old mainstays and getting serious. Over the past decade, Yahoo! has seen serious chunks of its business and cachet go to Google, so this change in tone isn’t surprising.

However, does it go far enough?

A bit cringe-worthy are the project managers talking about editorial programming, and the silly hats and nerf guns are poor inclusions.Let’s see if and how they follow through on this rebrand from quirky Internet company (cliche) to serious company willing to put in the extra effort to create destinations worthy of your time.