“Rock stars don’t come much bigger, better known, or charismatic than Ozzy Osbourne,” explains NetEnt director of game products Bryan Upton. In a deal that was brokered with Global Merchandising Services – Ozzy’s partner organisation for brand management and merchandising – NetEnt was able to secure the rights to use the his image and music in one of their slot games. Global Merchandising Services chairman Barry Drinkwater had this to say about the done deal: “NetEnt are the market leaders in their field and we’re incredibly excited to add another of our artists to the exciting NetEnt Rocks family of games.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to music and gaming fans, as Ozzy is following in a long line of musicians to take the digital branding route. Plenty of other legendary names in music have lent not only their names, but also their songs to be used in officially licensed online games. The Guns N’ Roses slot game on Sandlot Games – also developed by NetEnt – uses tracks from their famous Appetite for Destruction album and old video clips of the iconic band performing. While most of the original Guns N’ Roses line-up have reformed, before 2016 online slot games were one of the few ways fans of the original line-up could interact and remember the band outside of the music industry. Motörhead has also kept its back catalogue available to new and old fans by allowing their own images and songs to be used in similar games. And given the success of such music-based online slots, the new Ozzy Osbourne video slot will likely take the same creative direction.
It’s actually quite surprising that the Prince of Darkness took this long to get in on the online digital gaming trend. Apart from GNR and Motörhead, the estates of deceased legends Elvis and Jimi Hendrix have also capitalised on slot games as well, allowing their classic discographies to be heard by new audiences through this medium. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Ozzy’s late to the multimedia party. On the contrary, who can forget The Osbournes in which Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and Kelly all took advantage of the reality TV show craze back in the early 2000s.
That show was actually reborn as a podcast last year, with all four Osbournes picking up where the show left off in 2005. When the new podcast launched, Hollywood Reporter got in touch with Jack Osbourne who functions as the podcast’s de facto host, and he said “There’s been talk about bringing The Osbournes back, but it would never work. I thought, ‘Well, this is probably the next best thing.”
Apart from this, Ozzy also showed some inspired marketing early this year when he released the 12” Ozzy Osbourne Plush Bat – complete with detachable head – to commemorate the famous bat-biting incident. As if to confirm Ozzy’s legendary status, the web exclusive doll sold out quickly.
And now, with the release of NetEnt’s Ozzy Osbourne video slot game, it would seem that the Prince of Darkness is enjoying his new role as a branding king. Although there’s been no word yet on which albums or songs will be featured in the game, we can only hope that apart from Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, it also includes little-known gems in his repertoire like the epic Perry Mason from 1995’s Ozzmosis, the unsettling Mr. Crowley, or even Zombie Stomp. Ozzy’s long, storied career deserves every bit of the cross-marketing action it’s now getting, and the fans deserve to hear the godfather of British heavy metal in every medium possible. This is a singer that has helped shape the heavy metal music industry and inspired bands and musicians who have either followed in his footsteps or played with him live. The new game is a fitting tribute to one of rock and roll’s greats.