Just Dance winning over the hardcore - Ubisoft

Ubisoft senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key says gamers coming around to Just Dance, doesn't fear the brand suffering same fate as Guitar Hero.

Last week, the NPD Group revealed that Just Dance 3 was the second best-selling game of 2011, eclipsed only by Activision's shooter juggernaut Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Just Dance 3 alone has sold a whopping 7 million units. And the franchise--which was launched in 2009--now stands at 25 million units sold across the world. Sales of this magnitude make Just Dance one of the industry's biggest--and perhaps most unlikely--franchises.

GameSpot recently spoke with Ubisoft senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key to discuss the success of the Just Dance franchise, how it is attracting hardcore gamers, how it will escape the fate of Guitar Hero, and more.

Ubisoft's Tony Key.

GameSpot: Last week, we found out Just Dance 3 was the second best-selling game of 2011, beat out only by Modern Warfare 3. Is this kind of success something you anticipated? Why do you think gamers responded so positively to your dancing game in 2011 and beyond?

Tony Key: To be honest, we did anticipate that we would be bigger than last year. We did anticipate that Just Dance 3 would be bigger than Just Dance 2. We saw the trajectory of the brand; we didn't see any slowdown. And what we're really pleased with is that it brings in more and more people--no matter what kinds of games they like to play--are starting to discover the value of Just Dance. And so, I think Just Dance 3 was probably--of all the Just Dance games--purchased by more hardcore gamers than any of the other Just Dance games. And that definitely helped us to achieve higher sales figures.

"We are finally getting respect from hardcore gamers because people are starting to understand more than anything that there is a time and a place where Just Dance is the right choice."

So why is that? So why are gamers giving in and finally realizing that they should care? Or why have Just Dance in their collection. We sold a lot of copies to people who don't necessarily play video games much. And we made a lot of people happy. And I believe Just Dance was the first video game experience for many people in their entire lives. But ultimately, the gamers weren't really seeing the value. It's not about the hardcore experience that Assassin's Creed will give you; it's more about the fun that you can have with somebody when you're playing this game. I think what's happening this year is that gamers are starting to understand that in the right situation, Just Dance is the best choice, no matter what kind of gamer you are.

GS: Just Dance is a major commercial franchise, but it doesn't perhaps command the respect or recognition that other big titles do. Do you care that it is perhaps not respected or recognized on par with other big-selling games?

Ubisoft believes contemporary music is the key to success.

TK: We are getting the respect. I can see it now; we are finally getting respect from hardcore gamers because people are starting to understand more than anything that there is a time and a place where Just Dance is the right choice. If you're going to have some people over to your house, what's going to be your video game choice to liven up that party? Are you going to put Assassin's Creed in there? Call of Duty? Or are you going to put Just Dance in there? It depends what kind of party, I guess. But if it's a party of women, men, and kids, we already know what the best choice is. I've never been to a party where Just Dance didn't make it a better party.

And that's what I think people are finally starting to understand…that this is what the brand is all about. When we first put the game out, the forum comments used to be, "This is the biggest joke in the world." That kind of stuff. But now, when you read it, you see "You know my friend introduced me to this game, and I understand what it's all about." You see that all the time now. And those numbers in December show that "can all those people be wrong?" Can 25 million people really be wrong? Our goal is to get their respect and for them to understand that there is nothing wrong with this brand.

"Guitar Hero was the greatest party game ever made. But now we are."

GS: As I'm sure you're aware, Activision's Guitar Hero brand was once riding high with annual and biannual releases, but then, it tanked from oversaturation and genre fatigue. You've released numerous titles in the past few years and expanded to Black Eyed Peas, Abba, and Michael Jackson dancing games. How do you plan to keep gamers interested in more and more games?

TK: We spent some time--not so much anymore--looking at Guitar Hero because we will concede that [Guitar Hero] was the greatest party game ever made. But now, we are. On a units basis, Just Dance is bigger than Guitar Hero at this point in its life. We're going to sell close to 10 million units of Just Dance games of some form this year. And that's kind of where it was at their peak. But there's a big difference between what Just Dance brings and what [Guitar Hero] brought. For [Guitar Hero], the game was about classic rock, rock-and-roll songs…not necessarily stuff that was new. Sometimes it was new, but for the most part, it was what Just Dance brings. Just Dance brings always new dance music in the market from the best new artists. Whereas, previously in the music genre, the guitar games would, year after year, just bring out another set of classic rock music. One is current and one is classic.

As long as we continue to improve the experience, which we do every year, and we bring the most relevant music…and we already have the really low barrier to entry, the lowest probably, of any video game in history. Anyone could pick up and play this game the first [time] they see it with no issues. And when was the last time that was true for any video game ever that within five minutes you knew how to play it? That's what we don't get enough credit for…the genius of that design is what made Just Dance such a big hit.

GS: With the Wii U expected to be released this year, can Just Dance fans expect the franchise to move to the new console? What's in store here?

The Wii helped Just Dance rise to fame, but Ubisoft won't yet confirm it's coming to the Wii U.

TK: We have not announced Just Dance for the Wii U, but I will say the brand, and the focus of the brand, has not been around hardware; it's been around games. So we plan to be on every platform available at some point. And the Wii U is obviously a good candidate for that, but we haven't confirmed that yet. But with the Wii going into the later part of its life cycle, we need to make sure we know what's next for this brand.

GS: You've also started selling songs as downloadable content in Just Dance. Has this been a successful endeavor? And what are your plans for the future of this space?

TK: Without going into specifics, the attach rate of DLC has been higher on the Kinect [than] it has been on the Wii. What we do keep in mind is that a large part of the audience that plays our games is not necessarily into downloading content, so there will be a learning curve. But they'll get there. So I wouldn't say that the DLC is at the Rock Band level right now because we don't have that 18-34-year-old male as our core customer like they do.

"We plan to be on every platform available at some point."

GS: You do have a major competitor in Dance Central. Are you trying to poach users from Dance Central and bring them to Just Dance? What's your perception of that franchise?

TK: Dance Central has been a great brand for the Kinect. And they proved that the genre would work on that system, but Just Dance is a juggernaut way beyond anything that any dance franchise has ever done. And so bringing [Just Dance] to the Kinect and being number one in December proves it's not about the machine; it's about the brand. It's not about us versus them; it's about us making a great game for that system, and I would argue Just Dance 3 is the best Kinect game ever made.

GS: What about the notion of genre fatigue? Are gamers going to get tired of Just Dance games after a while?

The Guitar Hero brand lived fast and died young; Ubisoft wants to avoid that with Just Dance.

TK: I can't predict what's going to happen with the Just Dance brand, but the DNA of the brand requires an annual launch because we always contain the best new music from new artists from that year. So if we don't do ever year, I think we would actually shrink. There will be some point, potentially, where Just Dance will level off. And at that point, we may have up years, we may have down years, but as long as we're bringing good innovation and the best music, I don't see a reason why we should decline in a big way in the way previous party brands have done. We don't believe we will behave like the Guitar Hero music genre did. We think we're more of an annual, relevant franchise, more like a sports game. They have up years and down years, but they still do well every year. The industry counts on them. And that's what we believe Just Dance can become.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Want the latest news about Just Dance 3?

Just Dance 3

Just Dance 3

Follow

Discussion

41 comments
Evenios
Evenios

Yeah besides i thought Guitar Hero was doing just fine its they decided to kill it. Just Dance is ok...mostly popular with GIRLS i would imagine rather then guys. cant really see most normal guys wanting to dance around like a fool other then impress a girl. yeah hot little girls who are half drunk will like this game. other then that NEXT!

monson21502
monson21502

there is alot of drunk people in the usa..... thats why mw3 and this game sell so well imo

holtrocks
holtrocks

They make it seem like they are taking hardcore gamers and turning them into casual gamers.

Ant0n89
Ant0n89

Popular amongst casual gamers? Sure Winning over hardcore gamers? Just no....

Chris_Williams
Chris_Williams

hardcore gamers didn't kill off guitar hero, them making 5 new ones a year killed it off.

supertom221
supertom221

@warhawk-geeby Ditto. Seriously, who makes this stuff?? How does he know who plays these games anyway?! Did he go one-by-one and asked every single person who bought the game if he's hardcore?? Hell, many people these days don't even know what hardcore is. Just for clarification-- playing Shooters does NOT make you hardcore. This is a joke. No gamer who respects himself, harcore or not, would admit to loving this game. Playing it on occasion or with friends is acceptable, but can you truly you are a fan of the Just Dance franchise??? Didn't think so.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

I like dance games just fine, but I'd never passive-aggressively say that people who don't like them "don't understand," as this guy says.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Wait the.. what...? Does this article mean I should class myself as something else then? I sure as hell ain't casual, but I'm not hardcore either if Tony's right :| I'm going to coin a new word. I'm Oldschoolcore.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

DC and JD both have their place in any games collection - whether its for a half hour a day fitness fix, or fun when your mates come round or a laugh together as a family!! Personally don't have a favourite ( we have JD3 and DC on the Xbox but not tried DC2 yet ) but....who needs one :lol:

lusafis518
lusafis518

i like to stick to my DDR... well the old DDR games with B4U and MAXX 300

Lhomity
Lhomity

Just dance + alcohol + ladies = good times.

nurnberg
nurnberg

Lol at the title of this article.

FFadikt
FFadikt

@free_milk, apparently it didn't bother the millions of players. Whenever I play with friends we ENJOYED it, the motion controls were not perfect, but the most important part was that I, along with my friends, had fun with it.

origamistyle
origamistyle

I've never played Just Dance, but I gotta admit I'm a sucker for Dance Central. DC is just an honest-to-goodness fun time. A bit irrelevant maybe, but here's a bit of the interview that grabbed my attention: "And those numbers in December show that 'can all those people be wrong?' Can 25 million people really be wrong?" ...yes, absolutely. That might have been the most blatant case of fallacious reasoning I've seen in some time. Again, I can't say anything about Just Dance, but Call of Duty comes to mind. A product's immense popularity does NOT indicate any level of ingenuity or effort from its creators.

free_milk
free_milk

@ffadikt Most of the dance game have terrible un responsive motion controls how is someone supposed to have fun playing them?

bistro1138
bistro1138

drinking game: every time he says "brand", you must drink.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@FFadikt Because you don't need a videogame to dance. I'm sure you'll find that, if you're even the dancing kind of person, actually going out and dancing a much better use of your time and money. @Gelugon_baat The irony here (not your post specifically, but all about these comments) is that you only ever hear about how FPS's are terrible anymore, and that everyone time...

NightFox313
NightFox313

Sweet, a relaxing break from loads of First-Person Shooters flooding the gaming market.

Flint247
Flint247

I am actually glad games come in different varieties. Just one type or genre would be boring. :P

GAMERALL
GAMERALL

"We plan to be on every platform available at some point." A 3DS/VITA Just Dance? I'll wanna watch that, from a safe distance of course. :P

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

Well that's good Just Dance is going strong.

DragonessAthena
DragonessAthena

I own pretty much all the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games (only missing GH1, 2, and the band specific GH, and RB: Beatles). I've dropped hundreds of hours into both series, and continue to buy DLC for RB3. I own all the instruments including the RB Pro Guitar and Keyboard (to learn how to actually play them). I won't touch any of those dancing games with a 10-foot pole. Why? Because pop music sucks, plain and simple.

FuryX-4
FuryX-4

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

I saw the headline, and the guy's pic. And then i lol'd.

NJGIANTSNY
NJGIANTSNY

hahahahahahaha man, they come up with just the cutest things to say you know what they say....put mic in front of a dumbass you get dumbass comments

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

i am guessing from 15 comments that this article was a well contrived myth.

moviequest14
moviequest14

Unlike most self (and over) proclaimed ''hardcore gamers'' I don't feel I have to treat every casual game as though it is a leper.I will play Just Dance one day and will play Resident Evil the next..it doesn't need limits.If Ubisoft sticks to making steady changes (ie. a modern song roster..4 player choreography,etc.) and improvements with each series they should still be successful and relevant.

FFadikt
FFadikt

I fail to see why "hardcore" gamers are so uptight and against dancing games. They're meant to be enjoyed and to have fun. Just like, oh I don't know, every game that we've ever played?

joce667
joce667

Yes just dance is the new guitar hero but just like activision did with guitar hero , Ubisoft will kill the franchise , D'ont believe me look at assassins creeds .

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

I couldn't help but laugh. My respect for Ubisoft has hit a record low...

Otaku313
Otaku313

"Just Dance is the new "thing". Guitar Hero is out. Just Dance is what people want to play. Children want to play. Grandma wants to play. You want to play. Who plays Guitar Hero? No one. Guitar Hero is yesterday. Just Dance is the future. It is the best franchise. It is the only franchise. Just Dance." This comment, and the article, just sparked fears as to the future(and intelligence) of this industry as a whole.

Gen007
Gen007

I wouldn't say that its winning over the hardcore gamers at all. It's simply one of those games that widely appeals to casuals and it is a great game to play at a party or when friends are over. You cant really break out the skyrim in the those situations and they don't really make games like mario party or fusion frenzy anymore.It just goes to show how much of the market casual gamers make up. I would say hardcore gamers if they are into dance games are playing dance central which is really intense at higher levels and requires you to actually nail the moves spot on in most cases. Just dance is def more laid back and less serious.

VonHauperburger
VonHauperburger

Just Dance is the new "thing". Guitar Hero is out. Just Dance is what people want to play. Children want to play. Grandma wants to play. You want to play. Who plays Guitar Hero? No one. Guitar Hero is yesterday. Just Dance is the future. It is the best franchise. It is the only franchise. Just Dance.

Spacerac
Spacerac

Wanna get your boys in your house? Get Madden or CoD. Wanna get some girls in your house? Get Just Dance or Dance Central.

KillerJuan77
KillerJuan77

Just Dance is really fun, the same with Dance Central.

Nathalmighty1
Nathalmighty1

I've never played just dance but Dance Central is fantastic! You dont have to be a girl to bust out some moves!

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

AvnKnight
AvnKnight

Everybody I know has Dance Central mostly the girls play it though. it really is the only good kinect game.

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

According to the wife, Dance Central beats Just Dance. Gaming gents: get your wife/girlfriend a copy of either one, and have her invite her girlfriends over... It's hilariously fun to watch.