A saving grace of the declining market and associated Wii slow-down has been the resurgence around music games. Activision may have sworn off its take on the category (over-priced DLC and cumbersome plastic peripherals will do that), but the likes of Ubisoft and Nordic Games have, as they say on The X Factor, made it their own.
These games are fun, cost-effective to make and cheap to buy. I’d make some remark here about how they are safe haven in the midst of economic depression – but even I’m not that pompous.
So given the music game is still going strong, it’s not really a surprise to see EMI - after dabbling with games when it helped Nordic bring We Sing Robbie Williams to market – step up its efforts.
Thankfully, the story here isn’t that EMI has formed its own publisher, as is often the case with a ‘one medium meets another’ story (remember Brash and its movie games? Exactly). Word is that EMI looked into this, but balked at the fact it’d have to build things like inventory and sort out replication – concepts that are suddenly a minority in the music biz.
Instead, it has found a publisher to do the hard work, and one that knows this area all too well. Dance:UK arrived on the UK market as dance games boomed in the last generation – the Tubby Games team and developer Broadsword now want to do it all over again, and prove that the genre isn’t just a fad. Good luck to them.
Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg called me at home on Tuesday night last week at 10pm to tell me about Call of Duty XP.
Well, I think someone dialled the number for him, but still: the publisher was clearly very keen to talk with MCV about this new event.
Now, an LA event for core COD fans who will stampede through the entrance to buy a giant Modern Warfare foam hand isn’t necessarily headline news for MCV. But the message behind it is.
With 6,000 attendees, COD XP may in a numbers sense seem smaller than even the UK consumer events. But don’t think of it as something that needs to be visited – this is effectively a broadcast station for Activision. It is a means to further strengthen hardcore proposition that Call of Duty has become by catering to what the most passionate fans want. It’s also going to make a huge PR bang.
That’s all very telling for a franchise at real maturity, but still not slowing down with old age. And it’s expertly done.
EA may be gunning for Activision – but whatever Riccitiello says, it still has a lot to learn from Call of Duty.