On September 9, The Beatles: Rock Band will be released, likely followed soon after by a resurgence of mood rings, terrible haircuts and children running in horror as they watch their parents and grandparents commandeer their game consoles.
So why on earth would the most successful band in history sell out to a video game? The answer is actually pretty interesting. For one, bringing their catalogue to Rock Band introduces The Beatles to a whole new generation. For another, it will act as the ultimate marketing one-two punch, as the video game will be released on the same day that the band's remastered CDs become available. According to a recent article about the upcoming game in the New York Times Magazine, adding a song to Rock Band or Guitar Hero almost immediately increases the number of downloads the song gets on iTunes. In one example, a Motley Crue song actually sold five times as many downloads on Rock Band as it did on iTunes.
Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero have done a tremendous amount to expand people's perceptions of what games can be and in doing so have broadened the audience of gamers. Yes, it's not just 17 year old boys playing games these days. The people at Harmonix, MTV Games and EA hope that the release of The Beatles: Rock Band will bring in even more new "casual" gamers, including the generation that made The Beatles a phenomenon the first time around. So will baby boomers be knocking down the doors at their local Best Buy on September 9th? I doubt it, in Ringo Starr's own words (as quoted in the New York Times magazine) "It's impossible. I cannot watch the line going down and play at the same time."
Even without Ringo Starr buying one, however, the game is likely to sell through the roof, leaving the execs at Activision (publishers of rival Guitar Hero) gently weeping - at least until they sign Led Zeppelin.