FEATURE: Blood on the Dance Floor

Dominic Sacco
FEATURE: Blood on the Dance Floor

Over 1m dancing games are sold every month on average.

That’s an incredible sum, especially considering that before Just Dance arrived in November 2009, dancing games had become a forgotten genre.

Since then the dance games market has exploded and there is an astonishing eleven dancing titles on the schedule for Q4 alone.

Ubisoft is responsible for four of these games – the newly released Just Dance 3, Just Dance Kids, Abba: You Can Dance and The Black Eyed Peas Experience. Is the market leader worried by the sheer number of competitors now in the space?

“There is no surprise in the rising number of dance games,” says Ubisoft brand manager Rachael Grant. “Consumers will have to make their choices from the competition but I feel the want and need is still present for anything dance-related in the UK.”

Ubisoft may be confident but there are fears that the dance game bubble could be about to burst. Guitar Hero – the last great music game series to enjoy celebrity backing and millions of sales – collapsed in spectacular fashion. Activision flooded the market with new titles. Consumers got bored. Guitar Hero’s time is at an end.

And UK retailers are worried that the dance genre could suffer the same fate.

“We’ll certainly be looking to support the highest-profile titles that lend themselves to Christmas gifting,” says HMV’s head of games Tim Ellis. “However, I’d say we all need to guard against saturating the market and undermining what could be a good commercial opportunity for the sector.”

ShopTo’s purchasing director James Rowson agrees:?“There are too many dance games releasing around the same time. “It seems like it's only last push to ensure everyone gets some action before the genre tails off like we saw with the Guitar Hero franchise, which eventually ran out of steam.”

However, Grainger Games’ commercial director Simon Peck is more optimistic. “The massive sales uplift at Christmas for participation games will never let up, and dance is the obvious genre within this,” he says.

THE?INNOVATION?GAME

Publishers are more confident, and believe that as long as each title offers something new, there’s nothing to worry about.

“Our game has important USPs that stand it aside from the competition,” claims OG’s CEO?Jim Scott speaking of Get Up and Dance. “The dance game consumer expects the right social experience and won’t be fooled with claims and made to entice a purchase.”

But with so many games on offer, those with the bold claims and brands might just be the ones that prosper. Titles such as 505’s Grease and Tubby’s Now! That’s What I Call Music:?Dance and Sing benefit from their iconic names to set them apart.

UNIQUE?MOVES

But perhaps the biggest hope for dance comes from new platforms. Guitar Hero ran out of big new ideas to keep fans interested, but dance now has Kinect and Move to play with. In fact, both Microsoft and Sony are releasing two dance games today (Friday, October 21st) – DanceStar Party for Move and Dance Central 2 for Kinect.

“With the integration of motion control over the past few years, dance games have become a natural transition for the market and I think you’ll see this continue to grow,” adds Microsoft’s director of Xbox and Entertainment Stephen MCGill.

Sony’s UK product manager Lucy Duncan adds:?“The competitive nature of the genre has driven us to develop a title that is innovative.”

It’s this innovation which might just keep dance games grooving for years to come.

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Tags: games , dance , video , genre , saturated

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