iPhone-owning (s aapl) fans of Lady Gaga, rejoice: Today a new version of Tap Tap Revenge, Tapulous‘ iPhone rhythm game phenomenon, hits the App Store, loaded with 14 tracks from the breakout pop star. It’s also the first version of TTR that can be played with the iPhone held sideways during “boss tracks,” which require all four fingers.
The release of Lady Gaga Revenge is actually part of a much larger partnership with Universal Music Group (s umg), one of the big four record labels, that will see more Universal artist-branded versions of TTR come out later this year, and a track-purchasing system so TTR owners can buy songs for gameplay via Apple’s new in-app commerce feature. (When that service launches with Tap Tap Revenge version 3.0, cuts will cost you 50 cents each.) Tapulous’ partnership is similar to the one between the major labels and the video game studio Harmonix, which sells singles for play on their blockbuster, Rock Band (which have consequently sold 40 million tracks).
The Tapulous/Universal deal is a pretty big one for an app that launched only last July, first incorporating music from indie artists, then gradually coming out with versions with big-time acts like Nine Inch Nails and Weezer. In that time, TTR has remained among the top 25 apps and earned an install base of 11 million, Tapulous CEO Bart Decrem told me in a phone call yesterday. He credits that continued popularity to the frequent release of new TTR-playable content, and estimates the game has already sold an incredible 4-5 million songs.
Those sales numbers are particularly impressive because up until now, players had to exit out of Tap Tap Revenge to locate and download new content in the app store. Consequently, Decrem estimates only 4-5 percent of Tapulous owners have bought tracks. However, the addition of an in-game purchasing system will likely increase that conversion rate.
Along with new versions of Tap Tap Revenge featuring UMG music, look for Tapulous to expand the game’s online community experience. Tapulous’ Andrew Lacy told me TTR’s chat feature already processes a million messages a day, sent by hundreds of thousands of players who participate regularly. “We’re just scratching the surface of the community in Tap Tap,” as he put it. With that kind of engagement, I wouldn’t be surprised if Universal stars began showing up in TTR chatrooms to promote their Tap Tap music themselves.