MTV (publisher), Harmonix (developer) and EA (distributor) intend to release "Rock Band" 11/23/07 for XBox 360 and PS3.
How will the game play out online and across social networking tools now that EA and MTV have each acquired their own competitive instant messaging/social networking platforms?
Days ago, it was announced that EA is buying Atlanta-based Super Computer International (SCI), creators of 'PlayLinc', an online game browsing and messaging platform with instant messaging, buddy tracking, team management and VoIP. Interestingly, SCI was 40% owned by Verizon, and Verizon got into gaming when they found that 75% of their 16MM high-speed internet subscribers were using that bandwidth for gaming. From the press releases, "SCI’s development team will become party of EA’s Online Technology Group. SCI’s CEO, Jesper Jensen...will report to Nanea Reeves, VP and COO for EA Online."
MTV, the games publisher, however, acquired a similar offering in 'XFire' back in April of '06. XFire has a much larger base of users, and it will be interesting to see whether with 'Rock Band' these two systems will compete or work together on what promises to be an intensely social gaming experience.
With television viewers widely distributed, a purported $500MM investment in gaming over the next two years, an ongoing rollout of 'micro-niche' web properties and the advent of Rock Band, MTV seems to be recreating themselves as an immersive music and entertainment services company.
MTV CEO Judy McGrath has said "'Rock Band.' Maybe it will be the next MTV ... Who knows?"
It's hard to understate MTV's once dominant cultural impact. Farhad Manjoo over at Salon in his 8/15/07 piece "How 'Guitar Hero' saved guitar music" makes a strong case for the current impact of Guitar Hero:
"some [guitar teachers] speak of [Guitar Hero] as the most revolutionary thing to hit the world of guitar since Jack White learned his first scale. [It's] introducing millions of young people to the possibility of playing the instrument, and it's also teaching them important skills they'll need to play. And not only that: "Guitar Hero," perhaps more than any other piece of modern entertainment, is juicing kids' interest in guitar-heavy music. What could be better for the guitar, after all, than hordes of young people learning to love 'Smoke on the Water'?"
Weep as this 8 year old shreds: