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Music Media Entertainment Games

Music Game Genre On the Decline 225

After enjoying several years of popularity, music games seem to be drawing less and less interest from gamers lately. Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles have been conspicuously absent from a list of the 20 best-selling software titles in the past two months, and one report estimates that revenue from those games has dropped by almost half. Analyst Jesse Divnich suggests that there's no longer much room for dramatic improvements in game play, saying, "it would be erroneous to assume that any franchise or brand can grow unless it brings something new to the table. After a while, utility to the gamer will diminish and he/she will surely move on." Nevertheless, the companies are happy to continue to rely on DLC sales while working on new releases. Harmonix is showing off a trailer and a partial set list for The Beatles: Rock Band, and Neversoft has detailed a number of new features and tracks for Guitar Hero 5.
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Music Game Genre On the Decline

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:20PM (#28784123)

    Well, there are problems so far: Roxor's In the Groove being sued out by Konami (I still question why Konami would do such a thing to an innovative series), Pop'n Music not having a serious home Japanese title since 14 (the Wii version does not count), and PiU Pro not gaining as much acceptance as anticipated. Pop'n and IIDX, sadly, have not ever had a decent American release, and even though this is the time to do it, Konami has not done a good job at all. IIDX US and DDR Hottest Party, anyone? :(

    IMHO, In the Groove has been one of the more successful of the American hardcore rhythm gaming group; I have some friends who are working feverishly on a fan-made spinoff of ITG, called "OpenITG," which strives to bring back the glory days of this title. And of course, the game engine is based strongly on StepMania, which alone has some insane keyboard and pad charts created by its community.

    It's funny how the fans are usually the ones who help drive along the rapid difficulty increases in rhythm games (Pop'n, for one, is an outstanding example of when a "family friendly game" quickly becomes an exceptionally challenging title. Just look for "Blue River EX 43" on YouTube, for example).

  • Re:Too much cost... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#28784245)
    The controllers are a barrier to entry to the genre to begin with, but after that you already have them so they don't enter into the equation. Personally, I don't like that they charge full new game prices (40 or 50 bucks a pop without the controllers) for new versions of the games when those new versions are essentially the exact same game with some new songs. I don't know how much more innovative they can get with the gameplay aspect, but charging a bunch of money for what should be an add-on pack just seems like they're milking the franchise for all it's worth, which can be a turnoff to consumers.
  • by Deosyne ( 92713 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:58PM (#28784737)

    It was a smart move for Harmonix to kill the idea of a Rock Band 3 this year, particularly with Activision completely saturating the market with Guitar Hero software. Admittedly, that was more for the sake of focusing development on Rock Band: Beatles, but it still works out. I just hope RB3 adds the one feature in Guitar Hero that doesn't suck: stats, and lots of them.

    After spending the past six months learning to play bass, I now realize what a bullshit correlation it is between playing rhythm games and playing an actual instrument. Learning to play an instrument is hundreds of hours of tedium, toil, and focus just to get to a point where you finally don't suck enough to be able to play a little with other mediocre musicians. Rhythm games are a fun way to play timing puzzles synced to some great songs, are accessible to anyone immediately, and require less than one hundred hours to be able to play at an expert level.

    The only things that rhythm games and playing instruments have in common are:
    1) Music is involved.
    2) The tools are roughly the same shape.

  • Re:I wonder (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:13PM (#28785005)

    Maybe if someone threw together a game that was more a music career simulator rather than the sort of glossy surface character dressup plus rythm game format they could draw more people back in. I know I would buy a new game if they had some kind of leveling approach or more immersive "role-play" like character development (open ended? different decisions lead to different career tracks? street busker to arena rocker progression? play as a record producer? hook up with different people to form new bands? etc...). With the release of tools for 3rd parties to create tracks for the game it would be interesting to see the games move in the direction of providing a platform for people to create their own tracks and songs in game. I know Guitar Hero does this... but I mean more as part of the game rather than an add on.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:17PM (#28785057)

    The genre as it exists now is just fun.
    If it ever expanded into real teaching with a real guitar, you'd create a new generation of Eric Claptons zoning out with their guitar in their room for months at a time until they got good.

    Real fun teaching software would rule the software world.

  • by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:19PM (#28785111) Journal
    Fork it into one game with a focus on mainstream music and one with a technical focus. I understand the camp that just wants fun songs that people recognize- they're great for casual play and parties. I'm in the camp that plays games for the challenge and I listen to music that tends to be more technical (Dream Theater). If not for the game, Guitar Hero would mean to me the G3 tour- Buckethead and Eric Johnson are the only GH songs I've played that are from G3 guitarists. I get that focusing on the technical/metal (not nu metal) music won't go over well with many, but that doesn't mean there aren't lots of GH/RB fans who want to see more of those songs. Understand you might think the technical stuff is boring, but many people find the simple stuff boring. I get it, people are different, it just sucks to be the minority that gets ignored, hence GP's post.
  • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:20PM (#28785115) Homepage Journal

    Pressing buttons while holding your hands in a similar position as when playing a guitar gives you zero indication of musical ability or any positive benefit for your playing. It only shows you can move your fingers in time with a beat, but thats where the similarity ends.

    As a non-musician, let me tell you about one other thing these games have done for me.

    I never used to do any decomposition of music before. I listened to the whole piece as if it were one monolithic, inseparable thing.

    Playing these games has taught me to decompose music in various ways. For one thing, the game forces me to separate out what the guitar is doing from what the drums are doing from what the bass is doing, and now that has become a part of my normal listening habits. For another thing, I'm more aware of the linear structure of a song, the chorus, the bridging pieces, the solos, et cetera.

    It may not be much, but for me at least, there's been some musical benefit.

  • by Dorkmaster Flek ( 1013045 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:23PM (#28785169)
    That's why I dumped GH once RB came out. RB's platform approach is the new way to do music games, and if GH won't follow suit, they won't be getting my dollars.
  • by Aqualung812 ( 959532 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:46PM (#28785487)
    I couldn't agree more about listening to music in a new way. I *thought* I loved music before as a non-musician, but I have a whole new ear to everything that was old after playing these rhythm games.

    Also, drumming and singing in these games DOES translate to reality, at least to some extent. Singing greatly does, and anyone that can get 98-100% on the hardest drum level can at least pound out a steady beat with a symbol, snare, and kick with real drums.

    I'm not claiming that they'll be Neil Peart [wikipedia.org], but they make something that sounds like music.

    Someone that picks up a real guitar after being a GH badass will sound like crap, period.

  • by cynical kane ( 730682 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:28PM (#28786135)
    Pressing keys in time with music does not real music constitute, but it's one of the basic skills. Before you can make your piano or guitar or flute or whatever sing with musical expression, you need to know how to press the right keys or frets in the right order at the right time. Learning how to do this is (relatively) dull but fundamentally important. Guitar Hero is basically the most boring part of being a musician, in video game form. This is why 1) most musicians find it trivial and 2) most musicians are puzzled that ordinary people think it "fun".

    I'm also a musician and I've also been playing as long as I can remember. I find Guitar Hero to be both very boring and trivially easy--such that I was able to win our workplace's Guitar Hero competition after only having played about an hour of it in my life. Though I can't do many songs on expert, I can sight-read most songs on medium with high accuracy, whereas most people struggle with mastering beginner mode before moving on.
  • Re:Good riddance. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @04:36PM (#28787233)

    Why not tell FPS players to quit wasting their time and join the army??

    Isn't that what the America's Army [americasarmy.com] games do? All 3 of them?

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