- @ CES: Harmonix CEO: No Rock Band 3 Due For '09, Will Focus On Beatles; 30-Plus Million Songs Sold

Staci D. Kramer
Wednesday, January 7, 2009; 8:06 PM

Viacom's Harmonix is breaking out of its annual development cycle for Rock Band this year to focus on the new Beatles' game, due out in time for the holiday season, and to avoid the limits that come along with cranking out new versions, CEO Alex Rigopulos told attendees at Billboard Digital Music Live this afternoon. "A lot of our creative energy this year is focused on the Beatles project," he explained, which makes a certain amount of sense given the high expectations for anything done in the name of the iconic group and the need for Harmonix to avoid being a one-trick pony. (I don't think he mentioned the economic aspect?the Beatles game should provide a better revenue boost than a third Rock Band version.)

Instead, the major focus for Rock Band will be on growing the music library from 500-plus songs, although, as he said, "I don't think we're going to be iTunes tomorrow." The game's library hit around 530 this week with the Roy Orbison package. "Passing the 500 mark was enormous, but as big a number as 500 songs might seem, it's just the tiniest sliver ... a big part of the challenge of the coming year is to really invest so we can blow that out into as large a fraction of the universe as possible." He didn't offer a specific goal but may have provided a clue when he talked about what would happen as they grow from 500 to 5,000?"as the catalog gets bigger and we have more to offer, the flip side is mind share for a particular piece of contact will diminish."

Sales: Rigopulos said the game developer, owned by Viacom's MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA) and published by MTV Games, has sold more than 30 million song downloads for its Rock Band game with a couple of million downloads more coming through free promotions. He said expansion content doesn't sell in huge proportion to the game packs.

Keyboards coming to Rock Band? Rigopulos told a questioner he wasn't the first to ask if keyboards were coming to Rock Band. "The only answer I can give now is maybe." As for the need to include a keyboard in the Beatles game for songs like Yesterday?"that has occurred to us."

Photo Credit: Marxchivist

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