Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Sound of Sports Fans: In-Game Soundtracks and Beyond

When most people review sports games, much of the focus seems to be on controls, graphics, value, sound, etc. (and rightfully so).  There is one aspect – which can be included under “sound”- that deserves more attention than it gets:  in-game soundtracks.

Sure, the soundtrack to any game is important.  In sports games, the in-game soundtrack plays an especially pivotal role in creating that ideal fan “environment” that us armchair quarterbacks desire.  For the most part, today’s sport games do a fantastic job in aligning certain genres of music with different sport franchises. Madden typically features “hip-hop” and “alternative rock” artists.  Fifa has a more eclectic, techno-fueled collection of artists.  The NBA Live and 2K series each respectively  feature a more urban collection of artists from the rap genre.  All of these games match the in-game soundtrack with the energy of the sport, which in-turn helps enhance the fan experience of and interaction with the game itself

EA Trax really got the ball rolling in 2001, when EA recognized the potential in featuring up-and-coming artists in games.  By being featured in such games, music artists have the opportunity to get exposure in a medium outside of traditional music promotional vehicles (radio, concert circuits, television).  While radio and television might be crowded with competition, artists featured in the EA Trax program and other in-game soundtracks can reach millions of listeners and further extend their own brands by aligning with those in the sports video game industry.  Cross-promotion FTW!

Today, consumers also have the opportunity to include their own music selections through custom in-game soundtracks. While I am extremely excited to have the entire Boston Red Sox lineup come up to bat to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in MLB 09: The Show, I still prefer having the publisher of a game provide a collection of artists for me to listen to while playing.  I guess as a marketing guy, I enjoy seeing what artists are chosen to help represent each franchise’s brand.  As a music fan, I am also interested in being exposed to artists I might not be otherwise.

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So to wrap things up, here is a list of my top 3 in-game soundtracks  in sports video games:

3. Madden 2004

Notable standouts:  Bubba Sparxxx -“Back in the Mud”, Outkast – “Church”, Yellowcard – “Way Away”

Okay, so I’m no music critic.  And Bubba Sparxxx is not one of my favorite artists.  But this song just worked on what was an excellent overall mix of hip-hop, alternative, and do i dare say, “emo”artists.  Yea, I love me some hip-hop, but I am also sensitive.

2. NBA 2K9

Notable Standouts:  The Cool Kids – “2K Pennies”, Beastie Boys – “Root Down”, N.E.R.D. – “Spaz”

Yeah it’s very contemporary and perhaps I should have gone “old school” and cite the awesome NBA JAM TE midi-inspired soundtrack.  2K9 features a collection of artists new and old here, a soundtrack I now use when warming up for my own pick-up basketball games.  And you got to love The Cool Kids title track.

1.  SSX 3

Notable Standouts: Thrice – “Stare at The Sun”, N.E.R.D. – “Rock Star (Nevins Club Blaster Edit)”, Fatboy Slim – “Don’t Let The Man Get You Down”

What???  As a huge Fifa fan, you might wonder how I could put together a top 3 without including any Fifa soundtrack.  The fact is, I have never enjoyed listening to a licensed song in a game as much as I have since playing SSX3 a few years back.  Shredding down a hill listening to Thrice’s “Stare at the Sun” made me actually feel like I was an awesome snowboarder.  I’m not.  But thanks to EA Big (R.I.P), I was able to pretend!

Honorable Mentions:  Every Fifa Soundtrack.  Honestly, overall Fifa is probably the most consistent in putting together a great range of artists to match the sport of soccer (or “football” as us footies like to call it).  Even before EA Trax was started up, I loved opening the ’98 World Cup Edition to Blur’s “Song 2”.  Wooooo-hoooo!

That’s all for now folks.  As always, if you’ve enjoyed this article, spread the word.

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GDC 09 in Pictures…

Wow. What a week. The Game Developers Conference may have wrapped up, but I still have a little left over from the week-long event to post about. The big news coming out of GDC seems to be the announcement and unveiling of “OnLive”. OnLive, a digital distribution service that has been in development for the past seven years, will hypothetically allow you to instantly play games on “any device” through streaming, could shake up the industry if it takes off. MacWorld has a nice article that will fill you in on what we know so far about it:
http://www.macworld.com/article/139646/onlive.htm.

OnLive was one of the many things I got to see as I browsed the GDC floors. Have a look at what else I saw.

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Will OnLive change gaming? It’s way to early to tell. But this little device pictured below sure shook things up at GDC.

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One thing for sure is that the gaming industry is going strong. GDC brought together developers, publishers, and consumers to San Francisco to share the latest in gaming. It was a great experience, and I hope that this is only the first of many GDCs I attend.

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More from GDC ’09…

So, today I had some time off from office duties to hit up the North Hall Expo Floor.  Some really awesome stuff on display.  The big buzz is all around OnLive, which if you haven’t heard much about, you will in the future.  There were some great exhibits (Sony’s Lounge was a real draw).

As far as sports gaming goes, there were multiple things on display that could have a large impact on sports gaming in the future. Motion capturing seems to be all the rage right now at GDC, and I expect further implementation and an expansion of this technology in all upcoming games, be it in any genre.

I have a lot to say, but also a red-eye to catch tonight back to NYC.  I will post more on GDC, with pics included, this weekend.

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GDC Impressions So Far…

So, having the awesome opportunity to attend this year’s GDC, here are a few quick things I’ve noticed so far.

1. A lot of business goes down outside the actual conference. Sure, the floor at the Moscone Center is filled with many companies in a variety of different areas in the gaming industry (publishers, developers, etc.). But for the marketers, business is being talked up at company parties, surrounding hotels, restaurants, and even on the streets directly outside the Moscone Center. Pretty interesting to observe.

2. Twitter has a huge role in GDC ’09. People are exchanging Twitter names left and right. Tweets from people attending keynotes have become frequent. You do not even have to be on the show floor to know exactly what is going on – the Twitterverse has you covered.

3. The economy is still a factor. For as many companies that are here, there are a lot of companies missing. Booths are not huge, parties somewhat scaled back (from what I have heard- as this is my first year at GDC).

All in all, this is still a very exciting event, and an amazing way to see how the gaming industry all converges and comes together for a week in San Francisco.

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AndyTheGiant @ GDC 09

1234620983gdc09_0Hey everyone.  I’m currently in San Francisco for GDC ’09.  Looking forward to hitting the floor up today and I’ll be sure to bring you some impressions.  Stay tuned!

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AndyTheGiant.com is LIVE!

If I can get a site up and running, ANYTHING IS POSS-UHHH-BULLLL!!! Finally settled on “AndyTheGiant.com”  Yeah, it is my GamerTag as well… 360 marketing all the way!

AndyTheGiant is up just in time for some live blogging from GDC ’09 next week.  Hope your brackets are doing well!

Stay tuned!

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Shaq Twitters and So Should You!

I’ve recently become addicted to Twitter.  It is a great way to network with people across all industries.  For me personally (@AndyTheGiant), I have been able to connect with many people across the video game industry that I would not have been able to had it not been for Twitter.   shaq-hed

I also can follow the latest updates from my favorite athletes, including Shaq (@THE_REAL_SHAQ).  The big man does a great job at extending his personal brand and connecting himself with fans through Twitter updates.

When I was an intern at the NBA, I pitched that more athletes needs to have blogs  (such as Gilbert Arenas’s Agent Zero blog).  Activities such as blogging humanize athletes and stars alike.  Twitter takes it to the next level.

When using Twitter, athletes, celebrities, and up-and-coming video game marketing superstars like myself have a chance to connect with one another on an equal level.  We all are limited to 140 characters.  We all have the same tools at our disposal to talk to one another.  Ahh, it is almost an Internet utopia.

Video game developers have taken advantage of Twitter as a way to give updates to the community, and also receive feedback on products.  Twitter can be an extremely effective marketing tool, one that goes beyond sending out messages, encouraging dialogue between consumers and a product.

Sure, this could all fade as soon as advertising and spammers creep their way into the Twitterverse.  But for now, I am enjoying the benefits of “tweeting” and you should too!

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