Video game maker Ubisoft is betting that dancing games will be all the rage this holiday season -- thanks in big part to the King of Pop. The company will bring "Michael Jackson  The Experience" to stores Nov. 23 on Nintendo's Wii for $49.99, as well as to the Nintendo DS and Sony's PSP for $29.99. Additional gaming platforms will follow next year.
Ubisoft announced that to encourage early purchases online or in stores, it will make available a limited number of a special edition glove reminiscent of Michael Jackson's famous glove for people who buy the Wii game early. It didn't detail how many gloves it will offer, but said it expects them to sell out fairly quickly.
Ubisoft recently also launched dance game "Just Dance 2" in stores after selling more than 4 million copies of "Just Dance." "The dance category will be really strong this year, and we can be a leader," said Tony Key, senior VP of sales and marketing at Ubisoft. "The games are very accessible and are great group/family/party games. With Michael Jackson, we are looking to take things to another level."
The video game industry has seen sluggish sales most year amid a lack of hit games. Some analysts have also argued that in a weak economy, consumers are more cautious with purchases and buying more used games.
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter predicted fewer than 1 million units of the Jackson to be sold by year's end and expressed doubts about the game's ability to draw a major audience. Key wouldn't predict how many units the game could sell by year's end, but said he would be shocked if it doesn't become a bestseller.
"Very few artists can carry a whole product like this," Key said in signaling that spending an undisclosed amount on working with the Jackson estate and Sony Music for the upcoming game will pay off. "The fascination with Michael Jackson spans generations and demos. And he has always been global."
He said fans may want to get the special edition glove to use as a status symbol for the best player when playing in a group or family setting.
The Ubisoft game wants to enable players to step into the shoes of Michael Jackson and learn his dance moves. The music track list includes such hits as "Thriller," "Beat It," "Bad" and "Billie Jean." Players are also able to sing along.
"With this interactive product, we have the chance to bring Michael, the artist, into households around the world in a perfect match of Michael's artistry and the family entertainment which he always highly valued," said John Branca, co-executor for Jackson's estate.
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