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Their marketing savvy is in tune

Coldplay targets a new audience by putting its music into one of the year's top game series.

Langston Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr. writes about video games, gadgets, golf and sports for The Charlotte Observer and Charlotte.com.

Popular rock band Coldplay is including a track from its upcoming CD, “Viva la Vida,” in a new downloadable song pack for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

It's great marketing. Record sales aren't what they used to be, and video games are big business. You can reach out to a new audience by putting your music into one of the year's best-selling game series.

Included in the three-song pack is Coldplay's hit single “Violet Hill.” The new album hits stores Tuesday.

The song pack also features Coldplay's first smash hit, “Yellow,” as well as “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” from the Grammy Award-winning album, “A Rush of Blood to the Head.”

The Coldplay track pack will be available on Thursday at Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Store.

In recent weeks, a number of high-profile video game design studios and publishers have left as members of the Washington-based Entertainment Software Association.

The ESA was formed to give the industry a voice on Capitol Hill and keep the government from regulating violent videogames. The ESA runs the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which rates game content.

Activision, Vivendi, LucasArts and Id are out. Some industry insiders say other game companies may follow.

“There are hundreds of trade associations in Washington and virtually all feature member turnover, and the ESA is no exception,” said ESA President Michael Gallagher.

Most companies who have left the ESA haven't explained their move, though it appears that rising dues may be a factor. The organization's fee structure has increased twice in recent years and now amounts to millions of dollars in some cases; one company says fees quadrupled from one year to the next.

Jeff Brown, vice president of communications at game publisher Electronic Arts, said it is “unfortunate” that some industry leaders have left the organization, though he would not speculate on their reasons. As for EA, “there's no thought of leaving the organization,” he said.

Todd Hollenshead, chief executive of Id Software, famous for its “Doom” software, said his company's exit from the organization was a business decision and that the ESA “is a credit to the industry.”

“Our departure from ESA is probably temporary and was not political,” he said. “It was just a question of other priorities this year that we wanted to focus on.”

Look for Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf to be the cover subject for the hockey sim NHL 09, due this fall.

In three NHL seasons, Phaneuf has been nominated for the 2007-2008 Norris Trophy, is a two-time All-Star, and has 159 points thus far in his short NHL career.

I recently tried Large Software's ($29.95, largesoftware.com) new PC Tune-Up 2.0 software. Playing a lot of computer games can tax your PC, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to clean mine up. It was running slow.

The Tune Up is compatible with Windows XP (SP3) and Vista (SP1).

The program purports to remove items that cause your computer to run slow or crash. At least for me, it did the trick. It took about 15 minutes to run, checking my registry, checking for invalid files and a lot more. Then it prompted me to fix stuff.

It's simple, and once the program stopped running I felt my 5-year-old PC was as nimble as it has been in years. I'd rate this one very high. The Associated Press contributed.

Get more Games N Gadgets news at http://langstonwertz.blogspot.com.

Langston Wertz Jr.: 704-358-5133; lwertz@charlotteobserver.com.

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