Earlier in the month, we went hands-on with Hello There Games' upcoming rhythm game Avicii Invector Encore Edition for Nintendo Switch. While many fans of the late EDM icon are anxiously awaiting the release of the console-based musical adventure, its developers teamed up with legendary game publisher Atari for a newly-released mobile game celebrating the life and work of Avicii. Appropriately titled Beat Legend: Avicii, the game allows players to explore the beautiful soundscapes created by his timeless melodies anywhere in the world on their mobile devices.
Before the release of the game, EDM.com had the pleasure of speaking with the game's lead developer, Oskar Eklund, and the CEO of Atari, Frederic Chesnais, for an in-depth conversation about the Beat Legend series. The duo shared unique insights into how the game was created hand-in-hand with Avicii himself prior to his tragic death, what players can expect from forthcoming versions of the series, and how the games can provide an additional revenue stream to artists affected by the ongoing global health crisis.
The incorporation of popular music into video games has remained an essential component of the gaming industry since the 80s. Nowadays, it's very common for a game to feature today's current hits in its soundtrack. While that notion is by no means a rarity, it's not often that platinum-selling artists actually immerse themselves into the groundwork of a game and help to develop its design. Artists of Avicii's caliber, though, are a rarity.
"We actually invented the game with him," Eklund tells EDM.com. "The basics of the game comes from our joint venture when working very closely with him." Despite his status as one of the most illustrious artists in the industry, Avicii still made time to work on the game and even spent long days testing gameplay and providing feedback.
"Normally, you maybe get some licenses to artists, et cetera, but he was really involved in creating some of the gameplay," Eklund explains. "Those times we met, were supposed to meet for an hour, but we sat down for four or five hours just trying out new gameplay. He was very involved and very into it; he loved games."
Interestingly enough, the reason behind the game's setting in outer space is that Avicii was a big fan of the PlayStation One classic, Wipeout. Considering Avicii helped to choose the overall theme of the game, some of its artwork was inspired by his logo as well as mind-bending visuals from his concerts.
With the promise of future releases in the Beat Legend series, music lovers can't help but wonder which artists will be featured in later iterations, but Chesnais and Eklund said that they cannot announce which artists are next at this time. Although we do not know who's sound will be explored next, the duo mentioned that EDM will be the primary focus in the interim due to its intrinsically seamless integration with the gameplay. They also divulged that they've worked with several EDM artists, but they are very open to audience feedback and are willing to explore other genres to meet the demand.
Although no specific names were given, Chesnais and Eklund say that artists from all walks of life and degrees of popularity are being considered. When describing the plan for future entries in the Beat Legend series, Chesnais explained how the game can help artists to recoup lost revenue due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the live music space.
"It's about entertainment, but at the same time, it's also about economics," said Chesnais. "I think games by themselves offer a sort of new avenue for certain artists."
In addition to providing artists with new opportunities during these turbulent times, Atari and Hello There Games will be donating the musical royalties from Beat Legend: Avicii to The Tim Bergling Foundation. Founded by the late artist's parents, Klas and Anki Bergling, the organization supports mental health research efforts and seeks to raise awareness of suicide so it becomes recognized as a global health emergency.