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Beatles Joining Videogame Market

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Music from the Beatles is coming to video games...but not to Rock Band.

MTV Networks and Harmonix--the game developer behind the popular Rock Band franchise--together with the Beatles' Apple Corps are developing an interactive music game based exclusively on the entire Beatles catalog.

The game, which does not yet have a title or release date, will not be part of the Rock Band franchise, but will be based on the same platform. Since the project is still in early development, all parties were stingy on details during a conference call Thursday morning. But here's what is known so far:

--The game is designed to take users on an "experiential journey" through the Beatles' career, music and vision. It will also include new types of interactive gameplay associated with the Beatles' imagery in addition to its music. Surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, are involved in the vision and creative direction.

--The music will come from master recordings of the Beatles' U.K. releases, but will not be remixed or remastered. Giles Martin, the son of original Beatles producer George Martin and co-producer of the Beatles' Love project, will serve as music producer.

--A fourth-quarter 2009 release is in the cards.

There are numerous details still unconfirmed. Neither MTV or Apple Corps would comment on whether Beatles content will be available for the Rock Band franchise as downloadable content at any point, and Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones said the announcement was in no way meant as a precursor to the Beatles' catalog arriving at digital music services.

It's also unclear whether the new game will be compatible with any existing Rock Band game peripherals--such as the plastic guitar and drums controllers--or if new custom instruments can be expected.

Both MTV/Harmonix and rival Activision, which publishes the competing Guitar Hero franchise, have actively courted the Beatles for some time in an attempt to score content from high-profile artists. Jones cited the fact that MTV/Harmonix was the first to introduce a full-band interactive music game as a significant factor in the decision, as well as MTV's long history of working with artists.

Little is known about the deal structure. Neither company would characterize the terms in any specific way, but hinted that all involved essentially "owned" a piece of the project, suggesting it is not a typical licensing deal. "Nothing is typical about the Beatles," Jones said.