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New Michael Jackson Video Game Appeals to Everyone

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When Ubisoft announced the development of a new Michael Jackson video game this past June, the news was met with both excitement from longtime fans of the late King of Pop and skepticism from observers who saw the move as yet another deal to capitalize on the death of music’s highest selling act. Yet during an October showcase at New York’s Comic-Con, the interactive set entitled ‘Michael Jackson: The Experience’ proved to be one of the most talked-about attractions at the popular convention, a fact that is even more surprising given the jaded been-there, done-that attitude of seasoned gamers. Indeed, with the immense cross-generational draw of Jackson — at one of the showcases, players ranged from middle-aged fans to teens — the makers of the game, also behind the popular ‘Just Dance’ franchise, are betting on robust sells at the cash register.

“We wanted to make the game easy for everybody,” says Ubisoft spokesperson Lanai Gare to The BoomBox. “We want the entire family to get into it with his signature moves. It was important to take advantage of the fact that Michael was a legendary dancer.”

‘Michael Jackson: The Experience,’ which will be released on the Nintendo Wii on November 23 for $49.99, will allow up to four players to become The Gloved One or his backup dancers and dance to songs from his landmark catalog including ‘Beat It,’ ‘Billie Jean,’ and ‘Smooth Criminal.’ “We are still in the process of getting more songs,” says Gare of the Jackson tracks that will be featured. “We can’t disclose what other songs will be on the game at the moment, but there will be more coming.”

The game will also have a “school mode,” allowing fans the chance to practice some of Jackson’s iconic steps. Ubisoft’s Paris-based development team recruited Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ choreographer Travis Payne as well as other dancers to give authenticity to the moves. “When you talk to most people they go into the game thinking it will be corny or really easy,” says Gare. “But it’s a lot harder than people think. A lot of players sweat after doing the moves. It’s definitely a work out. If people want to exercise and they can’t go to the gym, they can dance to Michael Jackson.”

‘Michael Jackson: The Experience’ is the latest project signed off by the Jackson estate, which in March inked the richest recording deal in history with Sony Music Entertainment worth an estimated $250 million. Jackson estate executor John Branca says the King of Pop would have gotten a kick out of the interactive video game. “We are doing things that Michael would have wanted done,” says Branca. “There’s a lot of merchandise that Michael would have loved.”

‘Michael Jackson: The Experience’ will also be available on several other game platforms next year. “We are also gearing up for the PS3 Move and the Kinect for the X Box, which will be released in early 2011. We want everyone to experience being Michael Jackson,” Gare says.

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