EA Gets Into the Music Game

The ocmpany will release 'Rock Band' for the holiday season.
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Music-based games are the video game industry's current trend.

Just ask

Activision

(ATVI) - Get Report

, which produced one of the industry's biggest hits with its

Guitar Hero

franchise that lets users simulate playing an electric guitar. The

Guitar Hero

series, first released in 2005, has sold more than 2.5 million copies.

Surprisingly, video game leader

Electronic Arts

(ERTS)

seemed content to let rival Activision take the lead. But it's now developing a title that could rival the

Guitar Hero

craze.

Along with Harmonix, the developer of the

Guitar Hero

franchise and

Viacom's

(VIA) - Get Report

MTV unit, EA has unveiled

Rock Band

, a game where users have their own virtual band and perform music using drum, bass/lead guitar and microphone.

Rock Band

is expected to be released for

Sony's

(SNE) - Get Report

PlayStation 3 and

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Xbox 360 console during the holiday season.

EA has deals with almost all the major record labels and music publishers including

EMI Music

,

Hollywood Records

,

Sony BMG

, and

Universal Music

to make master recordings by their artists available for use in the game.

As with

Guitar Hero

, Harmonix will brand and sell the peripherals for the Rock Band game.

Racing, sports or shooter games, the video game industry's staple genres aren't going away, but as the industry looks to expand its user base, it's turning towards titles that meld music and games together. In February,

EA acquired SingShot Media, an online karaoke community in a bid to step into this territory.

With

Rock Band

, EA can potentially integrate SingShot and take it a step further. Harmonix suggests music tracks could be made available for download through the game potentially offering gamers a new way to get access to their favorite tune.

Meanwhile, Activision plans to release

Guitar Hero II

in April for the Xbox 360, and the third installment of the series could be out next year.

Shares of EA were recently up 63 cents, or 1.3%, to $50.99; Activision was off 19 cents, or 1%, to $18.75.