Q&A: Dan Rosensweig


Video game powerhouse Activision Blizzard on Monday announced it has hired former Yahoo executive Dan Rosensweig. As president and CEO of RedOctane, the unit that handles "Guitar Hero," he will look to further elevate the blockbuster franchise. THR West Coast business editor Paul Bond spoke to the new lead man.

The Hollywood Reporter: Why is "Guitar Hero" such a huge success and how can you take it to the next level?

Dan Rosensweig: I've thought about that a lot. The present is awesome, but the future is significantly bigger. There are a couple of universal languages. Some not so good, like war. Some are great, like peace and love. There's also technology and music. Whoever you are, music is about creating memories. People have participated in music in whatever format you've given them.

THR: Viacom's "Rock Band" franchise is so similar to "Guitar Hero." Are there any copyright or other issues?

Rosensweig: It doesn't make sense for me to get into that on my first day on the job. I can tell you that "Guitar Hero" has significantly outsold "Rock Band."

THR: Why is there no synthesizer or piano yet in "Guitar Hero"?

Rosensweig: That's a great question. After I figure out how to get through the front door and find the men's room, I'm going to ask that question. But there's obviously new hardware and content, like the Metallica game that comes out next week and "DJ Hero" that comes out at the end of the year.

THR: Why isn't country music a big part of "Guitar Hero"?

Rosensweig: Country is enormously big in America, and there will be increased content of all kinds.

THR: You guys can resurrect a song. Something from the 1980s will suddenly go gold. Now, if you release a game based on Aerosmith, for example, you pay them. In the future, will bands pay you?

Rosensweig: There will be value created for all the players involved. The specificity over how these deals get structured and who makes what money will be be based on natural conclusions decided from the value we create for consumers and artists. And we do both incredibly well.

THR: How do you see Nintendo's Wii Music, where you just shake a controller like its a drum stick, for example, as a competitor to "Guitar Hero"?

Rosensweig: The more people expand the music genre, the better. As I've learned in all my experiences professionally, especially at Yahoo, if you focus on creating the single greatest experience for users, that's the real competition, meeting their needs.

THR: Is there anything else you will do beyond "Guitar Hero"?

Rosensweig: My job is to be president and CEO of the "Guitar Hero" business unit, so I will focus on all things related to music. Obviously, we don't advance the stuff we're working on before we're ready to bring it out.

THR: Your video game, unlike others, is a great family activity. Was that on purpose?

Rosensweig: (Creators) Charles and Kai tapped into the breadth and depth of music. And they created the greatest family-friendly game on the planet. Kids can play with kids -- I've got two daughters, 16 and 13, they play all the time with their friends. They also play with my wife and I, and over the Internet they play with their cousins. It's one of those things that brings a smile to people's faces. That's why I came over here.
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