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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dig it: MTV-Harmonix announce standalone Beatles game

By Frank Caron |

Today, in a conference call with Apple Corps and MTV-Harmonix, the companies announced a partnership which will see, for the first time ever, a licensed Beatles video game. Rather than simply producing downloadable content for Rock Band, Harmonix and the surviving members of the Beatles and their families are working together to create a separate, stand-alone Beatles title.

But according to Harmonix cofounder Alex Rigopulos, this won't be just a Rock Band clone with Beatles music dropped in. Players will be engaging in "interactive performances with the Beatles' music, as well as a few new dimensions to experience the music that you haven't seen from us before," Rigopulos explained during the call. "This game will take you on a journey from the Beatles' first album through the last album (Abbey Road) and will span samples of the whole catalog," said Jeff Jones, Apple Corps CEO. "This is the ultimate platform for new generations of fans to start their own love affair with the Beatles."

From the sounds of it, Harmonix is looking to create an interactive Beatles biography of sorts, exploring both the band's music and the band itself. "This is a Beatles game," Jeff Jones said clearly. Rigopulos continued, saying that the game was to be "an experiential journey" that will be a tour of the band, its music, and its image as it changed over the years, which suggests the focus will be on the experience and the mania of the Beatles, as much as the actual songs.

The team at Harmonix has been working intimately with Apple Corps, famed producer Giles Martin, and under the watchful eye of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, all of whom have seen the prototype and really gotten behind the idea. "It's cool. I love it and hope it will keep inspiring and encouraging the young generation for many decades," said Yoko Ono Lennon of the new, as-yet-untitled game.

Why choose an exclusive relationship with Harmonix? Apple Corps' Jeff Jones was quick to answer. "MTV-Harmonix was clearly the innovator," he said. "We were impressed with the creative and musical approach [of the company] and the dialogue that occurred before we closed out a deal." Likely, the 25 million downloads that the Rock Band platform has achieved so far was a tipping point in MTV's favor.

Specific details about the gameplay of the title, whether or not it would include new instruments, what platforms it would be released on, whether or not the songs would be coming as downloadable content for Rock Band in addition to the new game, as well as price or release date are unavailable, as the game is still very much in development.

More information about the title—which will not be released under the Rock Band name, but will be through-and-through a Harmonix product—is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Watch out for more information in Opposable Thumbs.