We’ve known it was coming for quite some time — Beatles Rock Band. What a lot of people don’t know is that this game has been in the works for years. Through the machinations of Harmonix, Dhani Harrison (George Harrison’s son) the surviving members of the band and a whole bunch of talented developers, artists and musicians we now have a game that will undoubtedly make millions. Would we be so excited if the game was just released on a Tuesday like so many thousands of games and it was just a regular old game release? Well that’s a ridiculous question since there was no way this would ever be a regular release.
Want to see the what a behemoth marketing monster looks like? Then all you need to do is look at the icon props at the bottom of the The Beatles Rock Band website…
Impressive — the force is strong with them
Rock Band itself has already developed a solid brand over the last couple of years and the Beatles … well, yeah. So put the two together and you get a variety of game bundles all with the same game but extra stuff released on 9/9/09, number 9 …. number 9 …..
Behold — 21st Century Beatlemania
Forty-five songs, dlc already prepped to go, bonus tracks, clips and minutiae that would make Seinfeld cry. For the Guitar Hero/Rock Band generation and the kids that follow they get a chance to meet the Beatles in a way that doesn’t seem like drudgery for them along the lines of “Why do we have to listen to this?” (Watching endless videos or listening to their parents now CDs (used to be albums). With all this going for it you would think that’s really all you need to do right? Nope. You would be wrong like the people who said this band would never amount to anything. Granted you’ve got a given audience of anyone who is a fan of the game and the band. Then you’ve got the oldy oldersons who will now have a chance to be a virtual Beatle. And last you have the demographic of the kids who think Ringo is some sort of stomach virus/tapeworm but love videogames and are willing to have a go at this version since they’ve probably heard so many of these songs.
EMI’s Game Marketing Machine, Marketing Machine, Marketing Machine
Let’s put aside the fact that VH-1 Classics has gone on autopilot featuring an ad for the game every commercial break including one featuring old rockers reminiscing about how much they loved the Beatles. Let’s instead talk about the fact the game is being released simultaneously the same time that the entire remastered catalog of the band is being released and sold everywhere. Then there’s the mono (audiophile geeks) versions of their recordings the way they were supposed to heard — that’s up for purchase too. As for Beatles Rock band getting promoted, there as commercial spots on every channel outside of HGTV (althoug they may have bought time on there too), they’re running print ads, banner ads on the web, in store promotions, contests, release parties that put Halo 3 and GTAIV to shame and well — it’s kind of hard to avoid this Yellow Submarine running you over.
Microsoft even brought out the last two surviving Beatles to E3 this year to endorse the game, Dhani Harrison went on Late Night with Conan O’Brien to promote the game and every retailer from 7-11 to Whole Foods (that’s right Whole Foods) will be selling Beatles stuff. It would seem that EMI (the band’s label) has decided to take the notion of cross-platform marketing to new heights. Sure 7-11 okay, you go in grab a slurpee and a remastered copy of Abbey Road, but Whole Foods? “We need a price check on Rubber Soul, price check…” Strangely, Itunes is blatantly missing from this list. Fear not, it would seem foolish for this rip in the Beatles space continuum to last too long.
Despite the instant distribution vending machine we call the internet at their disposal it’s clear that the folks behind this marketing maelstrom realize that it’s a lot easier to get fans of the Fab Four to pick up that cool looking video game set (complete with fake replica instruments) or sweet new sounding discs in shiny packaging while they’re shopping for pants at Target rather than online. Ironically big business and corporations like EMI have yet to figure out the secret to turning the internet into that money making cash cow that traditional retail has always provided when it comes to stuff like this. Downloading sure, but clearing monster sales like a videogame with a price tag that maxes out at $250? It’s not an easy feat. We’re getting there with things like games on demand and Steam which allows you to buy older games digitally but nothing the likes of this. What this massive promotion for a videogame and some new CDs of music you already own does is raise the bar that was already set Halo 3 high a few years back. It also shows us what happens when you take some rock legends, a videogame and a mega promotion budget and mix them together.