Beatles Video Game Coming From ‘Rock Band’ Creators Next Year

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison involved in game's creation.

There’s a Beatles music game coming from MTV, but it’s not going to be a “Rock Band.”

MTV and Beatles license-holder Apple Corps announced Thursday (October 30) that the two groups will join forces to create the first-ever Beatles-themed video game set for release in the holiday season of 2009.

“It’s not a ‘Rock Band’ game,” Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos said during a conference call, speaking for the MTV-owned studio behind the original “Guitar Hero” and the “Rock Band” series. “It’s a new creative exploration of their music and a celebration of their legacy in a way that hasn’t been done before.” The developer added that it will be a “music-making game. … There will be interactive performance of the music … and stuff you haven’t seen from us before.”

The game is being described as a “journey” through the band’s career, from its first album to its last, though whether that means the project will encompass every Beatles song was not something the reps were willing to divulge. Reps also did not comment on whether gamers would be able to play as the musicians themselves.

(For the full press release, check out our Multiplayer blog.)

The game will have major Beatles backing. According to the official press release announcing the project, “the game was creatively conceived with input from Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, and enjoys their full blessing. In addition, Giles Martin, co-producer of the Beatles’ innovative “LOVE” project, will provide his expertise and serve as music producer for this groundbreaking Beatles project.”

The press release also included comments about the game from McCartney, who said, “The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of the Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out.” Ono, the widow of John Lennon, said, “It’s cool. I love it and hope it will keep inspiring and encouraging the young generation for many decades.”

Further details on the game itself were kept to a minimum, but the parties revealed that it is already in development and will be compatible with “Rock Band” instruments.

The MTV and Apple Corps representatives on the conference call declined to say whether this deal would deliver the band’s music to “Rock Band” itself.

It’s been reported that MTV and Activision have both been courting the Beatles, arguably the biggest band that has yet to lend their music to either the “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” franchises. But MTV won out, with Senior Vice President of Games Paul DeGooyer saying that the announcement is the culmination of a conversation between MTV and Apple Corps that had been going on for 17 months. Asked if this deal precluded owners of “Guitar Hero” from playing along to the Beatles any time soon, Rigopulos said, “To the extent that peripherals from other games work with ‘Rock Band’ games, they will be able to experience the Beatles game.”

On Wednesday, MTV and Apple Corps started the buzz, announcing in an e-mail that an “unprecedented global music project” from the two organizations would be announced Thursday. Video game reporters were sent that blast, leading to immediate speculation that the announcement would entail a version of “Rock Band” featuring the band.

Music games have been hugely popular in America since the launch of “Guitar Hero” in 2005, and this year has seen the introduction of band-specific editions of the games. “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” was launched mid-year, and a Wal-Mart-exclusive AC/DC version of “Rock Band” is shipping next month.

Check out the Multiplayer blog, updated daily, for even more gaming coverage.