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A new Beatles-themed “Rock Band” video game has been slated for an early September release, marking the first time the iconic band’s music will be made available in the popular music game genre.


Development of the title was originally announced back in October. The game will mark the first foray into the digital world for the iconic band, which has so far refused to license its music for use in games or for online download stores such as iTunes.


Apple Corps Ltd. - which is the business arm for the Beatles - along with Harmonix and MTV Games, said Thursday morning that “The Beatles: Rock Band” will hit the market on Sept. 9. The game will be available on the PlayStation 3 from Sony, the Xbox 360 from Microsoft and the Wii from Nintendo.


The game will be published by Harmonix and MTV Games, which is a unit of Viacom. Electronic Arts has been named as a distribution partner.


One change is that, when first announced back in October, the game was not expected to carry the “Rock Band” brand.


“As we moved through the creative process, it just seemed to make sense to clearly highlight the association between The Beatles game and the critically acclaimed Rock Band franchise,” MTV Games said in a statement.


The two surviving members of the band, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr - as well as John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widow of George Harrison - have all been involved in conceiving the music game project. McCartney told an interviewer last month that he hopes the game helps introduce young people to the band’s music.


“Well, I see people playing it (Rock Band) and they look ... completely funny,” McCartney told Entertainment Weekly. “But I like the idea that it introduces kids to music. It’s a great thing to be immersed in.”


The game may also presage a larger entry by the band into the world of digital downloads. The Beatles remain the highest profile band to withhold its songs from online download stores, such as the popular iTunes. Talks are said to be ongoing, though McCartney in the same interview seemed to blame the band’s record label for the standoff.


“It’s a bit of a sticky issue. We want it to happen,” he said. “The record company was taken over by new people quite recently, so there is a gridlock of sorts. I’d like to make it happen.”


The Beatles game will be the latest band-exclusive game to hit the market. Bands like Aerosmith, AC/DC and Metallica have also launched their own, branded versions of the games.


But the Beatles title also comes at a time when the growth of popular music games such as “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” seems to be peaking.


By the end of 2008, more than 22 million units of Activision’s “Guitar Hero” franchise had been sold, making it the undisputed leader of the genre. But sales growth has begun to taper off as the franchise ages. In November, sales of “Guitar Hero” were down 19 percent compared to the same period last year, according to data from the NPD Group.

Tagged as: the beatles
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