Music genre is in its infancy - FreeStyleGames
Newest Activision studio sees plenty of growth opportunities as it begins work on new IP for Guitar Hero publisher
Activision's latest acquisition FreeStyleGames is busy working on localised Guitar Hero content and a new IP for the publisher – and studio boss Chris Lee believes there's plenty of growth opportunities in a genre that is still in its infancy.
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz following its acquisition in September, Lee said that part of FreeStyle's decision to sell to Activision was based on the publisher's ideas for the future of music games.
"I think the music gaming genre is in its infancy and as an industry we're just scratching the surface of what's possible," said Lee. "Activision have a very exciting vision which lines up well with the ambition and impression of the future we have at FreeStyleGames.
"There is still tremendous growth opportunity for the genre in Europe. Part of Activision’s strategy is to work with more local developers to deliver more localised song content that really resonates with European players.
While Activision's Guitar Hero is leading the market, a number of publishers and developers have jumped on the music bandwagon, including EA with Rock Band, Konami and its Rock Revolution title, 7 Studio's Scratch: The Ultimate DJ and THQs Band Mashups.
However, the genre isn't just about appealing to a ready-made audience, said Lee, as there's the opportunity to sell to new consumers as part of a wider social gaming scene.
"The music gaming space is also part of the social gaming space which sees no signs of slowing down. We are really happy being part of a fast-paced and creative section of the games market and one that is looking at new users, not just trying to give existing FPS guys a new fix," he said.
"Also, we're working on an original IP in the music gaming space and have a lot of ambitious plans for the future, which we hope will continue to grow the music gaming space."
Rumours have suggested that FreeStyleGames would be a perfect fit for a 'DJ Hero' game, having worked on PlayStation 2 hip-hop title B-Boy, but Lee would not be drawn on such speculation.
"There are a host of musical genres that are well worth exploring," he offered. "For now, we're excited to be part of the talent base working on Guitar Hero and can't wait to support the release of Guitar Hero World Tour with forthcoming DLC."
Speaking of the acquisition specifically, Lee said that although a number of high profile game studios have closed this year, the deal was not one of safety in a brutal development environment.
"This deal wasn't driven based on our desire to find security, it was simply focused on what was best for our projects, team and ambitions.
"I think the indie environment is still strong and full of exciting opportunity," he added. "There are several very strong independents who continue to thrive in the current environment and deliver exceptional content. It's no more brutal than it's ever been."
While Activision is now one of the biggest publishing company's on the planet, Lee believes FreeStyleGames will continue to maintain its identity, due to Activision's policy of allowing each internal studio its own freedom.
"Activision prides itself on its independent studio model, which allows FreeStyleGames to continue very much as we were as an independent studio and continue to drive towards our ambitions.
"Activision believes that their internal studios should maintain their own unique cultures in order to continue to foster creativity and innovation. This was a major factor in our decision," he concluded.