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Ubisoft's Key: Dance Game Genre 'About To Explode'

Ubisoft SVP Tony Key tells Gamasutra the dance genre will be "one of the bright spots of growth" later this year, thanks to sales of its own Just Dance 2 and a glove-bundled Michael Jackson the Experience.
The Ubisoft senior vice president believes the dance genre will be "one of the bright spots of growth" later this year, thanks to sales of the company's Just Dance 2 and Michael Jackson the Experience -- and that the instrument-based music game popularity slump is unlikely to affect this genre. In comments made to Gamasutra, the marketing exec suggested that Michael Jackson the Experience -- early copies of which will contain a replica of Michael Jackson's famous sequined glove -- will help push the company to unassailable leadership in the dance genre. The original Just Dance has globally passed 4 million units shipped -- as a Wii exclusive. When it comes to MJTE, Key told Gamasutra, "we've got almost all of the signature dance tracks... we're pretty happy with the way that's working out." The company most recently announced the inclusion of tracks Ghosts, Rock With You, Thriller, Dirty Diana, and Speed Demon. "This is a new entry into what we think is the 'about to explode' dance genre," said Key. The game will launch on November 23 in North America for Wii, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP, and -- following a delay -- during the first quarter of 2011 for Xbox 360 (Kinect) and PlayStation 3 (Move). Alongside major hit Just Dance, Key said the game gives Ubisoft "an opportunity to have two of the biggest brands in dance category." "I think we have to consider that this is a category that is about to explode," said Key. "This is going to be the story around mid-December... you're going to be writing a story about how this is one of the bright spots of growth in the industry." Key thinks dance games will eclipse plastic instrument games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Dance is "going to become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, part of the music category." And while Key recognizes that Harmonix's Dance Central will launch on Kinect this fall before the Xbox 360 version of MJ, he sees the expansion of the dance category as "going to be good for everybody." Key believes that explosive growth is possible because plastic instruments are not required alongside the game purchase. He said that "nobody really knows" why that segment peaked, but the instrument purchases are a possible reason... And that's "not an issue" with dance games. Ubisoft, however, has "no plans" to move Just Dance from the Wii to the other systems, despite their motion control launches. And even on Wii, "Michael Jackson is not going to compete with Just Dance 2 [which released on October 12th] in our perspective." He believes the audiences are broad enough for these two games to not overlap significantly. Key also claims that there's no possibility of a competitor snatching up a license that competes with Michael Jackson. "He's absolutely incomparable when it comes to a dance game. Who could do it? maybe someone can, maybe someone will become, but at this moment, I can't think of anybody who has Michael's appeal as global, universal, all-demo appeal," Key said.

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