Once upon a time interactive music games of the ‘Guitar Hero’ kind were going to “save the music industry”. Then they didn’t. But while pretend-to-play games all but fizzled out, karaoke games are still doing good business. What’s more, their makers are coming up with some interesting new business models that might give their franchises an even longer lifespan.
As previously reported, Sony recently announced that the latest incarnation of its ‘SingStar’ game on the PlayStation would be made available for free, with users instead paying to download individual tracks.
Now Microsoft has announced a new ‘SingStar’ rival for its Xbox console, simply called ‘Karaoke’, produced in conjunction with The Karaoke Channel. However, it will charge Xbox LIVE users by the hour to access the game’s catalogue of over 8000 songs. This approach is fairly standard for real life karaoke bars, but whether users are willing to pay for limited access to singalong fun in their own homes remains to be seen. Packages will be available for two, six and 24 hours at a time, and there will be some tracks available for free to allow people to try it out before committing.
President and CEO of Karaoke Channel owner Stingray Digital Group Inc, Eric Boyko told reporters: “As the owner of the world’s largest licensed karaoke library and karaoke service on TV and internet, The Karaoke Channel will combine its expertise with the advanced capabilities of the Xbox 360 platform from Microsoft to develop the best in-home karaoke experience ever. Now anyone can access our vast library and sing in a fun and interactive way right from their Xbox”.
The model is not that dissimilar to UK-based karaoke brand Lucky Voice’s online service. However, a service provided through Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service will undoubtedly have a much broader audience, though it’s not yet clear if and when the new Xbox app will launch outside the US, or what sort of prices users will be charged.