Sony's Ranyard croons about SingStar

DEVELOP '09: Karaoke game's director talks about competition from Lips, what he's learned from the community, and a new Clubs mode for the PS3 series.

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BRIGHTON, UK--When Sony London Studio introduced PlayStation Eye support to SingStar on the PlayStation 3, it had no idea how popular the feature would be or how much data it would collect from the community. That was one message SingStar director Dave Ranyard had to share in his Develop conference session today while also commenting on the series' competitors, such as Lips.

Who doesn't love singing along to
Who doesn't love singing along to "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

"We didn't really learn that much from Lips," Ranyard casually replied when probed on the subject of Microsoft's rival to his title. "We definitely analyse all competitors, and we've seen Rock Band and Guitar Hero enter our space. But all competition is healthy, as it brings more people to the genre."

Fans of SingStar will definitely be excited to hear about one new feature that was announced at the session--a new Clubs mode that will allow users to group together according to interest. According to Ranyard, players will be able to join a group based on high scores or an interest in publishing videos, for example. He also hinted at the possibility of finally reinstating the Career mode--last seen in the original SingStar on the PlayStation 2--and taking it online.

The main topic of the session was video uploads and, specifically, how the "walled garden" that Sony created allowed them to set the tone of voice within the community. "People want to buy the song after they've seen someone else singing it, so we know that we need to implement that feature into the video player," said Ranyard.

"Also, data is king," he said. "Through online [feedback], we know that people play the game on a Saturday night. We also know that in Scandinavia, where alcohol is expensive, people play the game before going out. In the UK, where it's cheaper to drink out; they play when they get home."

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