INTERVIEW: EMI and Tubby Games

James Batchelor
INTERVIEW: EMI and Tubby Games

Music games are among the biggest sellers on the market, and yet few are the result of a direct collaboration between games publishers and record labels.

But renowned music firm EMI is taking to the stage with Now! That’s What I Call Music: Dance and Sing, its first – and apparently overdue – venture into the video games space.

“We’ve been working on a video game approach for the brand for some time,” says Steve Pritchard, EMI’s senior VP of catalogue for the Now brand.

“After the initial spectacular success we enjoyed with the iDVD quiz format – before that market dried up – we were keen to enter this market. The complication of development, distribution and partnerships delayed this, until we found the right partner. We needed to be sure the game could be made to a standard that reflects the trust in the Now brand.” 

That ‘right partner’ is fledgling publisher Tubby Games, who has had experience with this sort of project before (see ‘The Belly of the Beast’). Together, the two companies are working hard to ensure the Wii-exclusive Now will shoot to stardom when it arrives on November 11th.

Of course, the market for such titles is increasingly competitive – especially on Wii – as everyone tries to recreate Just Dance’s success. 

Many hopefuls have come and gone, but Pritchard is confident the game’s prestigious name will win over the crowd.

“The Now brand brings instant consumer understanding and trust, as well as good reputation and track record with retail,” he says. “The release of this product alongside the other elements of the Now music series also brings great marketing synergies in terms of advertising, racking and social networking.”

And this is just the warm-up. While both EMI and Tubby are keeping their expectations in check for this year’s Now, confidence is quietly building for future hits.

Pritchard says: “Hopefully this game will be the first of many, both on Wii and branching out to other platforms, including digital delivery of gaming and extra content. Hopefully this could develop into a solid regular channel for incremental music distribution and income to a younger, game-focused audience.

“We broke expectations with the previous launches of the iDVD quiz in the mid 00s and actually sold out of stock in a week. By carefully managing synergies, stock and manufacturing with Tubby, who understand this process, we would expect to sell what is budgeted.”

PARTNERS IN RHYME

While EMI may be a big fish of the music industry,it has sought a veteran games team to bring its brand to anew pond.Tubby Games is staffed by the folks behind 2004’s Dance:UK. We spoke to MD Tracy Johnson about the firm’s experience with the upcoming Now game.

How significant is it for Tubby that Now is your first title? 

Very. You get one chance to launch a business and by working with such a strong partner we hope this goes some way to sending out a statement of our intentions within the gaming music genre. And to launch with a game and brand that gives you access to a tracklist like we have has been a huge commercial benefit – 16 UK No.1s is unrivalled in this space to date.  
Is this the start on an ongoing partnership with EMI?

It is everyone’s intention that this is the start of a successful relationship that will develop on all levels of collaboration. Boxed product, DLC and digital full games are high on the agenda for 2012 and beyond. Development in technology plus consumer demands lend themselves perfectly to the business model we are scoping, so having a demand generator like Now is important for us. 

What experience has the team had in the past that will help you make Now a success? 

We’ve been punching above our weight on this game when you consider other publishers in this space, but we have adopted a very streetwise approach to harnessing our skills. Every aspect of the game – from choreography, through development and into campaigns – has always had the Now consumer in mind. If we convert a small percentage of them, we will have a very respectable sales success.

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Tags: games , pritchard , johnson , emi , now , thats what i call , tubby

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