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7/26/2006
03:01 PM
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Video Game Connects To Apple iTunes

A startup will integrate links from its game to Apple's iTunes Music Store, allowing gamers to purchase the music they hear as they play.

A startup video-game developer will integrate links from the game to Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store allowing gamers to purchase the music they hear as they play.

Left Behind Games Inc. said Wednesday the Eternal Forces video game scheduled to ship in October will have active links to Apple's music store.

"After each game level you win, a reward screen pops up with the name of the song and artist," said Jeff Frichner, Left Behind Games president and cofounder. "The link takes the person to the album track on the iTunes site."

Clicking the links pauses the game and launches the iTunes Music Store page that features the song. After downloading the music, the game resumes where it left off.

Gamers can customize music lists and listen to songs they download while playing the video game. The game is being initially released for the PC, with possible later version planned for the Macintosh operating system.

Many games now come with special soundtracks. Music soundtracks incorporated into game are becoming increasingly more important, according to analysts. "Sony has been running trials to converge music with games," said Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst with Lazard Capital Markets LLC. "Sony's PSP acts like an iPod, a place where you can store music you've download from its online music site."

BMO Capital Markets research analyst Edward Williams said the Microsoft's Xbox lets gamers personalize soundtracks, and video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. has developed a music production group within the company.

EA announced in November a partnership with privately owned record label Nettwerk Music Group to release music from three dozen of EA's games as digital downloads. Williams said in the last couple of years publishers have released box sets and music scores to go along with the game. San Francisco-based American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu, who has a buy rating on Apple Computer stock, said nascent partnerships between the gaming industry and iTunes will "drive incremental traffic that feeds on itself." He said the deals are more about increasing the "stickiness" and traffic to the music site.

"If you're a video game developer and want to sell music from the game it makes sense to partner with a company whose product, the iPod, people actually use," Wu said. "Now you're also beginning to see more deals between companies like Warner and iTunes."

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Apple on Tuesday said they would make 150 TV shows available on iTunes for $1.99. The content includes "Friends," sci-fi epic "Babylon 5," "MADtv," "The Jetsons" and "The Flintstones."

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