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King: feed your community or risk losing it

4mm Games boss lining up constant DLC for Def Jam Rapstar; confident game can breathe life into "stale" music genre

Rockstar co-founder and 4mm Games president Jamie King has said that traditional games publishers face big challenges changing their businesses to cater to the demands of digital distribution.

King, who's company is currently working on music game Def Jam Rapstar, said the main challenge is feeding the community new content on a regular basis, and that not providing enough new material for online games results in the loss of consumers and interest.

"There's an incredible challenge, certainly for traditional console publishers, to understand service-based digital distribution," said King in an interview published today.

"If you start a community online you've got to feed it. The moment you stop that, you lose your community," he warned.

Def Jam Rapstar is promising regular music for download, with King stating that the company has already planned over 70 tracks post-launch. The game is also releasing region-specific music to cater to different tastes, with King confident there are still plenty of opportunities to take advantage of in the music genre.

"There's a lot of focus on rock music out there and it feels like with Def Jam Rapstar we are on our own and it's a very fresh injection to a music genre that's not dead, it's not over, it's just gone a bit stale," he said.

"We look at Rapstar as a franchise and this first game will get us into the marketplace and then it will be interesting to see how the online community develops."

He added: "It is challenging because Rock Band is on its fourth or fifth iteration, there's Guitar Hero, these have had years of big budgets and we're coming out with our first title but it's got to be as good as those."

The company launched last year with fellow ex-Rockstar employee Gary Foreman, former Def Jam Enterprises and Warner Music exec Paul Coyne and Nicholas Perrett, previously at Image Metrics. King revealed that 4mm Games originally planned to go purely digital from the very start, but investors were more confident funding the start-up with the reassurance of console releases.

"We had the vision of being a digital publisher and putting our games online, but going around asking for £50 million, well, you should have seen their faces. They were spilling coffee and looking at me like I was insane. In terms of the financial community, they said if we were to do console games they would feel a lot better about investing."

The full interview with Jamie King can be read here.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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