The Rock Stars Of Video Game Marketing


September 19, 2008

Wooing Audiences On Stage And On The Video Game Screen

When 16-year-old Roman Perry became an avid fan of the video game Guitar Hero, his father noticed, CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports.

“Dad, you wanna play?” Roman asked.

“I don’t think so. You’ll beat me bad,” his father, Joe, said.

Joe Perry, of course, is a real guitar hero – as the lead guitarist of Aerosmith.

Now the band headlines its own version of the game – and it’s already sold more than a million copies.

“It’s taken over what records used to do. At least for bands like us,” Perry said.

In the game, players hit notes in sync with the song to score points. Last year, Guitar Hero and its rival, Rock Band, racked up $935 million in sales. That’s $100 million more than all digital music sales. While introducing old bands, like Aerosmith, to new audiences, like 15-year-old Alex.

“I had really no clue who they were until this game,” he said.

After it was included in Guitar Hero, sales of Kansas’ song “Carry on My Wayward Son,” more than doubled last year to nearly 300,000. Now more and more bands want to get in the game.

Greg Lopiccolo, vice president of game developer Harmonix, said that in the beginning the company had to approach the bands to be included in the game. But that’s changed.

“They’re absolutely coming to us now. Yes! Because now they understand that this is a way for an entirely new audience to appreciate their music,” Lopiccolo said.

So groups like Boston, The Who and Rush have signed up with Rock Band.

“We’re sharing our music to new fans. So that’s great for us. And new fans are learning more about the nature of how songs are constructed which I think is kind of a cool thing,” said Geddy Lee, Rush’s lead singer.

In effect, the game designers have become part of the music business.

“And I think more and more over time, people will come to expect to play with the music they love as a core part of how they think about music entertainment,” said Alex Rigopulos, co-creator of both Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Aerosmith’s Joe Perry is still happier playing on stage than on video screen.

“I don’t like to lose,” Perry said.

But he understands that success now means striking a chord with both audiences.

Courtesy of