After months of legal wrangling—after the developer of Scratch: The Ultimate DJ was purchased by its biggest competitor—Genius Products and Numark Industries have found a new developer, Commotion Interactive, the music and party game division of Bedlam Games.
Scratch: The Ultimate DJ, which was originally planned to beat Activision's DJ Hero to market, will now release months later, planned for an "early 2010" release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. That change in studio and an extended development time on Scratch will result in some changes to the game. The final version of Scratch: The Ultimate DJ will add new music and feature a new visual style, one different from the graphical treatment created by previous developer 7 Studios.
We spoke with Fred Galpern from Numark and Trevor Fencott, CEO of Commotion Interactive, to discuss the changes to Scratch, prior to the official announcement.
Galpern says that the publishers of Scratch decided to sign Commotion based on its experience, its ability to get the game out the door.
"We knew that they could get it out," Galpern said during a phone interview with Kotaku. "We're trying to build a franchise with Scratch. The real core of it is their experience, guys that worked at Rockstar, Ubisoft and EA."
The DJ game was originally due to ship to retail a few months from now, not next year. But Galpern said the game is in good shape now—and has been for some time.
"The game was on track, it was right where we needed it to be," he said, noting that the E3 demo "looked good, songs were playable, many of our DJ players were available." But the version of Scratch: The Ultimate DJ that E3 attendees played may not be aesthetically indicative of the final product.
Galpern says the graphical updates are "not a wholesale visual style" change, but something "a little bit more modern, more in line with hip hop culture today."
"It was a joint decision," Commotion's Fencott says of the change. "As we were updating some of the music, we thought maybe make [the aesthetics]a little more congruent with DJ culture." Expect to see some of those changes roll out over the next few months, as part of Scratch's ongoing promotional campaign.
What won't change is the game's controller. That's something Genius and Numark appear to be happy with, as is. With its touch sensitive turntable and authentic hardware, Galpern says its DJ offering will offer an "authentic experience of being a DJ."
Also staying put are the game's announced collaborators. Mix Master Mike and Quincy "QD3" Jones III are still on board.
While the change in developers on Scratch: The Ultimate DJ may not concern Numark and Genius, who are confident in the game's existing mechanics, the shift to early 2010 could present some problems. Not only is the first half of the year becoming increasingly competitive, Scratch now has to release after DJ Hero, one of a half-dozen rhythm music games releasing in the holiday season. Galpern says he's not concerned about the new schedule.
"It actually works out well for us," he said. "I would rather not be part of the glut. It's not the ideal, but we're gonna make the best of the situation."
Potentially more concerning is the success of its biggest competitor and a competition for shelf space.
"Are we concerned about the competition of another DJ game? No," Galpern said, boasting of Scratch's creative capabilities and authenticity. "If DJ Hero doesn't do well, if it's not a success, that will be more of a concern for us." But as for competing for shelf space against the other big box music games, Galpern says "I think by spring, whatever hasn't sold will be discounted."
Right now, Galpern and Fencott seem mostly concerned about their own game, not someone else's.
We hope to have more from Scratch: The Ultimate DJ in the coming months to chart the game's progress. Keep an eye open.