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INTERVIEW: YooStar

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: YooStar

So what exactly is Yoostar?

Yoostar is the first video game that puts you in the movies and next to the other actors. Players can create user-generated video and post it up on the respective Microsoft or Sony websites.

From there, the gamer can share it with their friends, comment on it and compete. We run a weekly contest where we give $1,000 to the best videos.

Everybody wants to be in the movies. However, Hollywood has been reluctant to let us use clips from their films. Over the last two years we have been able to convince them and have spoken with over 1,500 actors who have agreed to allow us to use their likeness in these clips or remove their likeness from these clips – so gamers can perform in their place. And using Kinect and Move is really cool. Seeing yourself on TV standing next to Arnold Schwarzenegger is a different kind of experience.

How successful has it been?

It has been pretty successful. The first product was launched at $169 and it missed its launch date. It also had just one retail distributor in the US which was Best Buy. But in the end Yoostar sold through a little under 10,000 units, which at $169 on PC was pretty good. About 75 per cent of buyers have registered their systems online and if you go to Yoostar.com you can see some of the performances.

Yoostar 2 is coming to Kinect and Move. What are your thoughts on these devices?

They appeal to different parts of the market, but I think they will be highly successful. I know there is a lot of Sony users who have been waiting for PlayStation to do something like Move.

Wii has been on the market for a long time now. Do you think Sony and Microsoft have jumped on the motion-sensing bandwagon too late?

When you play with Kinect, when you talk or move your hand to control the console, there is a really different sensation that comes about. When you see the action on the screen change because of the movements you’re making, that’s really cool. Some of the initial games take advantage of it, but I think we will see the most creative games in 18 to 24 months. It will take that long for us to figure out how to do it – just like when a new console is released.

What was the response to Yoostar 2 at E3?

We are using Blitz to write the game and they’re doing a fantastic job. When we showed it at E3 we ran two rooms all day, and both were filled. It was a rough version of the game, but we didn’t get any negative reports.

What did you make of E3 this year?

E3 was fabulous. When I walked across the show and saw the amount of money being spent, I thought ‘Oh my God.’ Everyone was shouting ‘Look at me.’ I’ve been doing it a long time, and this show was all about hardware. And Nintendo stole the show with 3DS.

Will we see Yoostar in Europe?

We are in the process of interviewing distributors and setting up a UK office.

We want to launch Yoostar 2 simultaneously with the US, which we anticipate will be this fall. I might be over-optimistic, but I don’t think it will be difficult to find partners. That’s because of the amount of money we’ll put behind the product to launch it.

We chose Zoe Saldana and Leonard Nimoy to help us launch the product at E3, and that generated a massive amount of publicity for basically a start-up company. And we will use the same type of techniques moving forward.
I started in the games business in 1983 and I set up Activision in Europe. We were quite successful and we were as successful when we set up Acclaim in Europe. My anticipation is that we’ll be as successful again.

Yoostar 2 is a movie karaoke game. What are your thoughts on the popularity of music titles?

When I was at Acclaim I, like a number of execs, looked at Guitar Hero and said ‘No, gamers won’t want to do that.’ We were much surprised by the success of that game and Rock Band but also pleased about it, too. It showed there was more than one way to play games. And people enjoyed it. I really like Karaoke Revolution – it’s a simple product but fun to do.

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