MTV, Harmonix form ‘Rock Band’

Company takes on music videogames

MTV is making its move to dominate the music vidgame space.

Conglom on Monday announced plans with Harmonix, the “Guitar Hero” game developer it bought for $175 million last year, for “Rock Band,” which will be distributed by Electronic Arts.

MTV, which will finance and own “Rock Band,” has secured deals with all four major labels and Hollywood Records, along with EMI and Warner/Chappell publishing, to access a broad array of songs from their libraries. However it must still convince individual artists and bands to contribute their songs.

“Rock Band” will be the first major console vidgame made by MTV.

“Guitar Hero” and “Guitar Hero 2” sold more than 2 million units combined, despite a hefty pricetag for the guitar-shaped controller. RedOctane, which published the game and held rights to it, was acquired by Activision for $100 million last year.

Deal gave Activision the right to make future games. It has developer Neversoft, which has made several Tony Hawk skateboarding games, working on a third “Guitar Hero” installment. Game may come out by this holiday season, the same time as “Rock Band.”

Harmonix hopes to take “Rock Band” beyond “Guitar Hero” by letting gamers simulate playing guitar, bass, or drums or sing lead vocal to famous rock songs. In addition to a guitar/bass controller, it will come with a drum kit controller and microphone to let players create their own virtual band.

Game will also feature a significant online component allowing players to form bands or compete via the Net, as well as download new songs beyond those included with the game.

Activision just released a version of “Guitar Hero 2” for the Xbox 360 that includes downloadable content, but doesn’t allow online play.

Publisher hasn’t disclosed details on the third “Guitar Hero,” which may include many of the same features as “Rock Band,” setting up a likely fierce battle between the two music games.

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