Beatles Game Confirmed: Due Christmas '09, Yoko's Blessing, Still No Downloads

This story was written by Robert Andrews.
MTV's Harmonix games studio and The Beatles' Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) Corps label have confirmed they are to develop "a music-making" video game allowing gamers to play some of the band's songs from its entire UK back catalog. The title has no scheduled release date but will be ready by "holiday of next year", the pair told reporters on a conference call - but there's still no prospect of digital downloads coming to retail

The new game will not be an expansion pack for Harmonix's Rock Band but "a new full-blown custom game title production built from the ground up", Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos told reporters. Everyone on the call refused to give any details whatsoever about likely gameplay features because, Apple Corps CEO said, "The game is in development, which is why we don't want to talk about how it's going to turn out a year from now." But it's likely to come with musical game instruments and other features new from those already in Rock Band

Rigopulos: "There will be interactive performance of The Beatles' music as well as a number of new dimensions to how to experience this music and the artistry of The Beatles that you haven't seen form us before. We have an unique opportunity for us to forge in to a new creative (direction) in the music game genre and do things which have never been done. We want to take players on a sort of experiential journey through the band's imagery and ideas and vision as they evolved over the course of their time together ... a visual exploration of The Beatles' imagery is a big part of the creative direction of this project." MTV's music unit president Van Toffler called it "an unique opportunity for fans to experience the band in a way they never have before".

-- Negotiations: Discussions between MTV and the label started at least 17 months ago and Harmonix has "been up and running for some time on this actually", Rigopulos said. Agreements have been struck between EMI, publisher Sony/ATV, Apple Corps and MTV, and the game has "the blessing" of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono, who all "have been part of the conversation, have seen demonstrations of the game, understand how it's going to roll out, what you're going to see on your screen", Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones said: "(They) will be involved along every step of the way creatively and musically, in the way the music is presented with Giles, they'll be involved in the design and implementation of that design."

-- Play the original mixes: In a neat link to the past, Giles Martin - the Grammy-winning son of Beatles producer Sir George Martin - has been tapped to produce the game's music: "The idea we're trying to keep to as much as possible is for people to play the songs as though they're playing the originals; we will be adhering to the original mixes my father and The Beatles did back in the day and try to preserve the sound quality as much as possible."

-- Still no digital downloads: Despite Paul McCartney forecasting their arrival in 2008, Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones told on the call: "We're still working out the details and we have no announcement to make. We have no date or any information, we're still working on the details."

By Robert Andrews