New Service Blends Social Games with Music (But Does it Work?)

By Reid McCarter Comment

MXP4 is the Dr. Frankenstein of social media, gleefully combining music and gaming into a brand new form of internet entertainment. With the recent hiring of Xavier Louis, former Product Marketing Director for EA’s Playfish, the company looks to expand its ventures with the help of a proven talent in social marketing. Now the only question that remains is whether or not Louis, now MXP4’s VP of Product Marketing, is backing a worthwhile endeavour.

The web is a crowded place and new businesses have to possess a truly novel idea to have a chance at success. MXP4, by blurring the lines between social music and social gaming applications, hopes to bring something different to audiences while staking their claim on the burgeoning genre of “interactive listening”.

Currently MXP4 has just under a dozen apps that provide an example of its vision. Titles like Sing It, Mix It, Remix It, Max It and various, celebrity-endorsed versions of Pump It ((Pump It (Nelly Furtado), Pump It (Lloyd Banks), Pump It (Ministry of Sound), etc.)) headline the offerings now available from the company. Each of the games features a simple premise — get the listener involved with the song by introducing play elements like visually-based remix tools. Users are able to pick a track from a supporting artist and monkey around with the sounds by clicking instruments on and off, balancing volume levels or just otherwise fulfilling their dream of being a producer that actually knows what they’re doing.

Indie game developers have enjoyed unprecedented success by playing with similar ideas (Audiosurf, Tap Tap Revenge and Beat Hazard offer a few examples) and MXP4 looks to introduce this formula to a wider market through Facebook and downloadable app accessibility. The aforementioned games have made a splash with all types of audience because of their ability to make listening to favourite songs more interactive, creating play through the passive activity of listening and the active nature of button-pressing and score-counting.

Where MXP4 differs, however, is in the level of engagement required to enjoy their games. Their apps, while an interesting concept, are probably a bit too simple for those interested in an absorbing game and a bit too distracting for those looking to enjoy a song. The remix tools are all, by necessity, extremely basic and are designed more for mindless tampering than anything like actual remixing or reconfiguring. While this works well on a casual, “pick up and play” basis, many may be put off by the preliminary confusion of how much listening or how much playing they should be doing at any one time. There are no goals to motivate gameplay and no possibility of making a song truly unlistenable. While this lends MXP4’s apps the ability to be enjoyed by virtually anyone, it’s hard not to think that such a passive approach to development calls the worth of the apps themeselves into question.

MXP4 certainly has the marketing weight to throw behind its work however; new VP of Product Marketing, Xavier Louis brings plenty of experience in social gaming to the company. His years working with Playfish are marked by that developer’s rise to its current position as one of the most successful businesses currently working in the field of social games. Louis’ intimacy with the industry and demonstrated talent are a valuable asset to MXP4 as he now begins to lead efforts in monetization, development and product adoption.

With the guidance of a business verteran like Louis, MXP4’s success will be left entirely to the users. If audiences appreciate the premise then the future seems bright for MXP4 and, if they don’t, “interactive listening” may end up just being one more skeleton on the heap of dinosaur bones that makes up the internet’s forgotten innovators.