As if the chart triumph of Guitar Hero 5 wasn’t enough to prove that Activision is still dominating the music game sector, the company is taking the Hero franchise in a brand new direction.
DJ Hero shies away from performing in favour of the more intricate art of blending established tunes together. Using the new turntable controller, players attempt to scratch and mix songs together to form different mixes.
While the gameplay is similar to the more than familiar Guitar Hero structure, Activision is keen to highlight the differences between the long-running series and the new scratch-‘em-up. And even though Guitar Hero has established a fanbase, the publisher is confident DJ Hero can bring in an even wider audience of its own.
“DJ Hero is going to be a completely new experience for us,” says senior brand manager Ian McClellan. “It expands on the revolutionary gameplay that we have developed and refined in Guitar Hero, and brings in new types of music that have not been used previously in this gaming genre.
“We’re really excited about consumers being able to enjoy hip-hop, R&B and electronica, as well as rock and pop. With this kind of diversity, we are also expecting DJ Hero to appeal to people who may not have yet discovered the Hero franchise.”
The key factor, says McClellan, is that the music of DJ Hero is still very accessible and there’s plenty of it. Over 90 mash-ups have been created specially for the game, mixed by notable DJs, including Daft Punk, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Shadow, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Scratch Perverts.
Across the 93 mixes are 101 songs from artists such as Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent, Beastie Boys, David Bowie and Queen. The tunes selected give DJ Hero a much broader appeal and provide a wide range of interesting combinations.
WHEELS OF STEEL
Activision has drawn on its previous experience in this market to build anticipation in time for DJ Hero’s arrival, but has also recognised that the target audience is different to that of its guitar-based predecessor.
Promotional initiatives, such as the recent sponsorship of the Notting Hill Carnival, have touted DJ Hero to the masses, and the company expects this title to expand the overall gaming audience in the same way the original Guitar Hero did.
“DJ Hero will grow the category so retailers should expect this title to bring even more music-lovers into their stores, some of which may not have even bought a music game before,” says McClellan. “Again, the investment behind this title will be at the level that they have come to expect from the Hero franchise.
“We believe trialling the game is going to be very important – one of the secrets behind Guitar Hero’s success is its addictive nature and the way it brings people together socially. The turntable controller immerses fans into the authenticity of DJ culture as they master various techniques such as scratching, blending, and cross fading.
“To support this, we are planning some heavyweight ways to introduce people to DJ Hero. For this reason, retailers can expect a high level of promotional support for DJ Hero from launch through to the end of the year.”
Activision has prepared an extensive marketing campaign that will include large-scale TV support and ads across a range of other media.
The publisher has already begun to raise awareness among gamers with previews and videos on the game’s official website, djhero.com, including behind the scenes footage from Grandmaster Flash and exclusive gig footage from Eminem and Jay-Z.
Additionally, Activision will be making the most of every opportunity created by its partnership with popular DJ Zane Lowe, including sponsorship of his current nationwide tour.