It’s no secret really that the economy is doing its dirty work on the gaming industry, despite some reports early on that it was “recession proof”. Some companies, like Viacom, are betting big on certain big titles this holiday season. Viacom is the parent company of MTV, who, along with the developer Harmonix, are responsible for the Rock Band franchise. High hopes are riding on how well their upcoming title, The Beatles: Rock Band, sells going into the fall season.
Viacom is shelling out a lot of cash for royalties – an estimated $40 million or more if the game sells as expected – to those who own the rights to the music in their new game. That’s a lot of faith on a franchise that isn’t very old, especially in this economic climate.
The LA Times has a quote from Martin Bandier, the Chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, in which he points out this startling fact: “The royalty rates on this are not even comparable to anything that has been done before.” A lot of work has been put into getting this entire collection of music into a Rock Band title, which was a joint venture between Sony and the Michael Jackson estate, the owners of most of The Beatles song catalog.
I’m a big fan of Rock Band, if not of The Beatles’ music. However, I can’t say I’m that interested in The Beatles: Rock Band. I suppose I’m the perfect example of what Viacom doesn’t want to see – someone who really doesn’t want more peripherals and music that can’t be ported to other franchise games, not to mention having a lot of other games this fall to play through. However, I do hope the game sells well, because the franchise overall has been great in the past, and I hope for its continued success. In the process, perhaps it will lift the industry as a whole above the recession and put it solidly back on its feet.