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Music Games

Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected? 163

donniebaseball23 writes: Thanks to a glut of titles, hardware and precious little innovation, the Guitar Hero and Rock Band craze all but died out by 2010. Now, however, strong rumors are swirling that one if not both franchises will be making a return on the new consoles. But will players care? And will the market once again support these games? Charles Huang, co-creator of Guitar Hero, weighed in, outlining some of the challenges. "First, the music genre attracts a more casual and female audience versus other genres. But the casual gamer has moved from console to mobile," he warned. "Second, the high price point of a big peripheral bundle might be challenging. Casual gamers have a lot of free-to-play options." That said, there could be room for a much smaller guitar games market now, analyst Michael Pachter noted: "It was a $2 billion market in 2008, so probably a $200 million market now. The games are old enough that they might be ready for a re-fresh, and I would imagine there is room for both to succeed if they don't oversaturate the way they did last time."
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Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

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  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @02:53PM (#49149179) Homepage
    Trying to rehash a game that right for a particular technological level that we now exceed is not a good idea.

    Make something new and better.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:00PM (#49149229)

      Some markets just come and go. It might just be that these lines of games might be just as viable as databases for one's Cabbage Patch dolls.

      Would it make money? Maybe to a niche market. If I were to do something, I'd focus on price/quality as opposed to volume. For example, the guitar would not be a cheap piece of plastic, but perhaps a real one that can be strung and played as normal once someone got tired of the game.

      Also, te game should go further than the last game types. Make different instruments. Allow multiple players to play the instruments at the same time, either coop, or one after the other in a battle of the bands. Even go with odd things, such as a chainsaw and doing WASP or Jackyl songs.

      Mainstream-wise, no... this genre isn't going to be in vogue again, but there is still money to be made.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        I think the real reason is that rhythm games are last gen right now - and there is a small core group of players that really do like them, so it's time to move them to current gen hardware.

        Otherwise it'll die out in short order as the PS3 and Xbox360 fade out, and there's nowhere those players will be able to progress to.

        And these group of people are worth a lot of money - because DLC for those games was still being released despite the last release being over 5 years ago.

      • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @04:30PM (#49149963)

        For example, the guitar would not be a cheap piece of plastic, but perhaps a real one that can be strung and played as normal once someone got tired of the game.

        My sister has that, I think it might be this: http://rocksmith.ubi.com/rocks... [ubi.com]

        In any case, it's a real guitar that does something like Guitar Hero.

        Make different instruments. Allow multiple players to play the instruments at the same time, either coop, or one after the other in a battle of the bands.

        Don't they do this already? Again, my sister has a drumkit and microphone for Guitar Hero, and I'm sure I've played both with and against her, consecutively and concurrently.

        Even go with odd things, such as a chainsaw

        OK, that would be new.

      • If I were to do something, I'd focus on price/quality as opposed to volume

        Absolutely. I love these games, but the instruments are complete shit. I have never once even had a drum set for these games that could handle the input fast/reliable enough for the hardcore levels. The buttons on the guitars are so far apart as if they were made to be used by Sasquatch.
      • Would it make money? Maybe to a niche market. If I were to do something, I'd focus on price/quality as opposed to volume. For example, the guitar would not be a cheap piece of plastic, but perhaps a real one that can be strung and played as normal once someone got tired of the game.

        Have a look at Rocksmith. You plug a real electric guitar into it, and it teaches you to play guitar through the game.

    • by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:05PM (#49149283)
      Like Rocksmith 2014?
    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @05:29PM (#49150449)

      Absolutely agree! How Rock Band jumped the shark ...

      1. In Rock Band 1 you could slow the practice speed down to 50% speed. In Rock Band 3 some idiot designer raised this to 70%!? WTF? I'm trying to _learn_ the song. Allow me to slow this down to _25%_ for some of those songs.

      2. Give me an option to show me the notes in _actual_ music notation so I can **learn to read music**. I _want_ to see the notes in Treble Cleff and/or Bass Clef.

      Color-coding the music was brilliant. Teachers even used it to _actually_ teach students! [destructoid.com]

      3. For the love of god use a _standard_ USB connection.

      Stop locking me into your shitty proprietary vendor lock-in peripherals. If I buy a guitar, drums, or keyboard it should work across ALL games and ALL platforms: Xbox360, Xbone, PS3, PS4.

      4. Stop the bullshit "No Export" option. WTF can't I export it from Rock Band 2 and import it into Rock Band 3 if I own *both* ??

      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      5. Provide the band's famous song(s) not their shitty unknown songs of bands we love.

      Why can't we buy Journey's "Any Way You Want It"?? We're stuck with the crappy: "Don't Stop Believing"

      And now we can't even buy that?? [rockbandaide.com]

      * http://www.rockbandaide.com/20... [rockbandaide.com]

      Greed ruined the music games.

      • 1. I agree.
        Rock Band 2 improved on Rock Band in many ways. Rock Band 3 it was nice that people could join at any time, but it felt like in many ways it was not as good as the first 2 to me. Then came the point were new DLC songs would not work in RB2 because of the format change.

        3. To be fair Harmonix tried hard to use standard USB. At least on the PS2 and PS3. Certain other console companies did not want this. Activision was the one that didn't want to be compatible and did everything they legally could
    • Prediction: They'll remake these games for the current gen consoles, and when they do, they'll make several mistakes.

      1) They'll release new instruments that aren't compatible with the old.
      2) All the DLC songs people paid for won't be transferable to the new game.
      3) The game will essentially be exactly the same, just with shinier graphics and a few new features no one cares about.

      Results: All the old fans are angry, and sales will be lukewarm compared to previous generation sales. Executives will blame

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2015 @02:53PM (#49149181)

    Or Zydeco Washboard Hero.

  • Just (Score:2, Insightful)

    Learn to play real guitar ..
    • Re:Just (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:02PM (#49149255)

      Can't this be said about any video game that doesn't include unrealistic activity? Why not just drive cars? Why not just play football? Why not chuck rocks at pigs?

      • Re:Just (Score:5, Funny)

        by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@noSpam.gmail.com> on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:08PM (#49149305)

        Why not become a CIA operative and get shot in the head in a Russian airport in a shocking but easily predictable double-cross?

        • Well yes but guitar is different ..
      • Can't this be said about any video game that doesn't include unrealistic activity? Why not just drive cars? Why not just play football? Why not chuck rocks at pigs?

        For most people, driving a race car or playing professional football are unrealistic activities. They also involve a large amount of physical danger.

        • I agree, although I personally just don't play sports and racing games because they just aren't fun in my opinion. The last sports game I can remember playing was some basketball game on an atari system that was possibly built before I was conceived.

        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          For most people, driving a race car or playing professional football are unrealistic activities. They also involve a large amount of physical danger.

          Driving a car does, but there's room for debate on whether particular sports are more or less safe than sitting on the couch for long periods.

      • s/rocks/birds/
      • The difference, IMO, is that obtaining a real guitar to play with one of these games is really not much more "out of reach" than getting the plastic toy version.

        If you want to play a sport like football, you have to gather together a willing team of players. If you want to drive a real car on a racetrack, that involves some expense and a suitable car. Chuck rocks at pigs? Umm.... sure, if you have a handy pig pen to go visit at whatever hour of day or night you're ready to play that game, and you have a

    • To be honest I'd like to see something like Rocksmith where you hook up your guitar and play simple parts or something and have the difficulty ramp up

    • Re:Just (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:14PM (#49149351) Homepage

      You know, my wife will be eternally grateful for Rock Band, et al.

      I led a very, er ... musically sheltered life prior to Rockband and Guitar Hero. Wasn't a fan of most forms of rock, couldn't stand metal or punk. Like, at all.

      The Rockbank type games taught me a LOT about the melody, structure, and musicality of them; sort of acted as a crash course in understanding why they didn't suck.

      Since then I've bought well over a hundred punk albums (literally) and other stuff I previously didn't like since playing the game.

      Say what you will about these games ... but in my direct experience, nothing teaches the structure and musicality of a broad range of music as well as these things.

      For me and my wife? We'd buy this again in a heartbeat ... because it's a fun game to play in parties, and a friend's wife makes drumming on expert look easy.

      So when I'm rocking out to Rise Against in the car, my wife is laughing and saying "Thank god for Rockband". Because without those games, I most certainly wouldn't have been.

      • Friends wife makes drumming look easy .. wow seriously man .. yes you certainly do not like metallica
        • LOL ... I do now. Prior to rock band, absolutely not. Now based on drum rate I can tell old v new Metallica -- or at least know it's either Metallica or Anthrax (based on what else is in my collection that is).

          And, obviously, I do not think real drumming is easy, not by a bloody long shot ... but she's hella good at it in the game. Way way better than I ever got. She was rocking it on expert and I was in awe.

          But prior to that, it was all a blur of screeching noise that I couldn't stand.

          Now? Metallica a

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by freeze128 ( 544774 )
        But that's just where the usefulness ends. Sure, you now appreciate rock music, but can you play it in real life on real instruments? Millions of kids bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to realize their dreams of actually becoming ROCK MUSICIANS. Sadly, all the games do is to train you to press colored buttons in sequence with colored lights. Those skills are not transferable to real instruments, and in fact, won't even get you an audition.

        The games would have been more useful if they were burger flipper sim
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Millions of kids bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to realize their dreams of actually becoming ROCK MUSICIANS

          Quite literally ZERO kids actually did that. Just like zero kids bought Madden thinking it would let them realize their dreams of playing quarterback in the Superbowl. People buy games to let them live out fantasies of things they know they are unlikely to ever be able to do in real life, the music game genre was no different.

          • I'm not a kid by any stretch, but Rock Band did let me live the rock star lifestyle in a small way. Toward the end of the craze, a local radio station had a contest up at Lake Tahoe where the brand prize was $400 worth of bottle service at one of the fancier nightclubs at Harveys casino. My boyfriend and I went up on stage with two random guys we met that night to fill out the band and won with a rendition of Aqualung. A couple weeks later the four of us went up there and got absolutely blasted. Just like r

        • Re:Just (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @04:27PM (#49149947)

          Oh, bullshit. The same number of kids thought they were going to be real musicians as thought they were going to be real race car drivers, assassins, airline pilots, or any of the other games you can get - zero.

          Nobody played those games to 'get skills', they played the games because they were fun. There is nothing 'sad' about it at all.

        • Millions of people bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to enjoy a fantasy of being a rock star. I don't think anyone bought these games expecting to actually learn how to play music.

          Have you learnt to become a space marine from playing Quake? Have you learnt to rule a nation by playing Civilization? Have you learnt to draw graffiti by playing Jet Set Radio? Have you learnt to be a hand-to-hand combat master playing Street Fighter?

          Unless a game is explicitly designed as a teaching device, you are not likely to

        • But that's just where the usefulness ends. Sure, you now appreciate rock music, but can you play it in real life on real instruments?

          Umm, yeah, and how many video game skills do you apply to daily life?

          Are you an awesome assassin? A race car driver? A pilot? A marine? Are you actually Batman?

          It's a frickin game. It is play. Nobody gives a crap in this context about playing an actual instrument. It's frickin air guitar. It's intended to be fun.

          Millions of kids bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to real

        • But that's just where the usefulness ends. Sure, you now appreciate rock music, but can you play it in real life on real instruments? Millions of kids bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to realize their dreams of actually becoming ROCK MUSICIANS. Sadly, all the games do is to train you to press colored buttons in sequence with colored lights. Those skills are not transferable to real instruments, and in fact, won't even get you an audition.

          Yes, as a matter of fact I can play it on a real instrument, provided that you consider an electronic drumset "real". (And I don't mean the toy drums designed for Rock Band: I use a low end Yamaha set. I have neighbors who would not appreciate the volume of a normal drumset, so this is the best I can do.) The same drumset that I play as a standalone instrument is also my controller for Rock Band 3, thanks to a $20 MIDI adapter.

          I'll never be a great drummer--I'm passable at best, and don't have the drive

          • But that's just where the usefulness ends. Sure, you now appreciate rock music, but can you play it in real life on real instruments? Millions of kids bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to realize their dreams of actually becoming ROCK MUSICIANS. Sadly, all the games do is to train you to press colored buttons in sequence with colored lights. Those skills are not transferable to real instruments, and in fact, won't even get you an audition.

            Yes, as a matter of fact I can play it on a real instrument, provided that you consider an electronic drumset "real". (And I don't mean the toy drums designed for Rock Band: I use a low end Yamaha set. I have neighbors who would not appreciate the volume of a normal drumset, so this is the best I can do.) The same drumset that I play as a standalone instrument is also my controller for Rock Band 3, thanks to a $20 MIDI adapter.

            I'll never be a great drummer--I'm passable at best, and don't have the drive to improve beyond that--but I did develop some of my early skills using Rock Band games.

            So how are the electronic drums? Same problem, we want drums but can't have the noise. Are these a reasonable substitute? Would they work for home studio recording? We've seen them in the store, but dropping $500 on something that might be horrible doesn't sound like a plan.

            • It all depends on your expectations. (Also, I haven't tried very many kits--mostly the one I ultimately bought, the Yamaha DTX550K at close to $1000--so I'm basing my opinion on that.)

              Sound: It'll probably be fine. Modern drumsets do a decent job of approximating the sounds of the real thing, with enough variety that the casual listener won't be able to tell the difference. The one thing that I can't get to sound convincing is a cymbal swell, but I don't normally use those anyway so it's not a big loss f

              • Oops, correction: Yamaha's upgraded pads are silicone, not mesh. (Roland's upgraded pads are mesh). I just know they're "the white pads I like that feel better than the black rubber ones".
                http://spotlight.samash.com/bu... [samash.com]

                Also, the drumset I have is the DTX530K, not DTX550K. The only difference is that the DTX550K includes an extra cymbal (which can be purchased separately anyway). I can never keep the specific product numbers straight in my mind.

    • Re:Just (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:17PM (#49149367)

      I already know how to play real bass and some guitar. I still enjoy playing Rock Band. They're not mutually exclusive.

    • Pretty much is what you are looking for.
    • Re:Just (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:18PM (#49149377) Homepage

      Learn to play real guitar ..

      Or any other instrument. I bought a $150 banjo, a $12 electronic tuner, and a $15 book (ISBN 978-1883206444) about 5 weeks ago. I've only had time to put in about 8 sessions of 30-60 minutes but that's all it took to start sounding somewhat good. I was concerned I would annoy my wife to death but the banjo sounds good even in the hands of a beginner.

      • by GTRacer ( 234395 )
        Be sure to let us know if you ever go on tour with Steve Martin - I'd love to see that!
      • I was concerned I would annoy my wife to death but the banjo sounds good even in the hands of a beginner.

        Ha. Ha. Haha. Hahaha! Hahahahahahahahahaahahahahaahhhahahahaahaha!!!!!!!! [Gasp for breath]! Sounds good! Good one! I would make another joke here, but I sense I would not be alone. As such, I'll simply let others chime in.

      • Conversely I bought guitar hero and 2 guitars. I only had to put in 10 minutes setting up the profile but that was all it took to start two of us playing pop songs and sounding good in the process. Not to mention the competition kept things very fun and entertaining and we didn't annoy the neighbours with the "learner player" sound because even if you don't play the music doesn't sound bad.

        As for your experience there's two likely explanations:
        1. You are a musical freak of nature. Some people are. My girlfr

    • by Higaran ( 835598 )
      That's what Rocksmith is for.
    • Relevant XKCD http://xkcd.com/359/ [xkcd.com]
  • I prefer Rocksmith (Score:5, Informative)

    by nobuddy ( 952985 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @02:58PM (#49149213) Homepage Journal

    Same game, but plugs in to your electric guitar and teaches you to play while you play.

    • by h4ck7h3p14n37 ( 926070 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:32PM (#49149485) Homepage

      I wish I could mod this up. I've been playing Rocksmith for about four years and I think it's a fantastic way to learn guitar.

      Sitting by yourself and playing scales and chords (badly) is very boring. It's easy to want to put the guitar down and do something else. Rocksmith keeps you entertained (motivated) and I find that if I sit down with the intent of playing for an hour I'll play for three.

      I just wish the guitarcade section of Rocksmith 2014 were better. Games are over very quickly and it takes too long to start them up again. There really needs to be some sort of infinite life mode so you could run the drills for as long as you want.

      • My advice to anyone wanting to learn guitar?
        Two Words: AC/DC
      • by Soulskill ( 1459 ) Works for Slashdot

        How's the latency with Rocksmith? I've been meaning to give it a try, but I worry that trying to play anything fast will be an echo-y, syncopated mess.

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )
        Noob Rocksmith questions. As a drummer for a lot of decades I have always considered picking up the guitar or bass. Much more portable and crowd friendly. First question: Is there a bass version? For either, how hard is it for someone who never picked up a guitar to start on Rocksmith?
  • But with ACTUAL GUITAR! We have the technology! Rocksmith tries to go i in that direction, though I don't know how well it does.
    • But with ACTUAL GUITAR! We have the technology! Rocksmith tries to go i in that direction, though I don't know how well it does.

      It does just fine. I've been playing guitar for 30 years, but I learned a ton of new songs quickly on Rocksmith and broadened my skills substantially.

  • One of the biggest points of friction that they are going to have is that the games market is much more oriented towards digital delivery of goods than it was a half decade ago. It's not that the game industry can't be successful in selling physical add-ons. I think VR equipment will have a strong market once it matures and the prices become more approachable, but those are devices that will work for multiple games. I suspect selling a physical add-on to gamers, especially casual ones, that only works for
  • Great for family (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've been a drummer for 36 years and my family and I really like to play Guitar Hero, the kids mostly like singing and the drums with the wife playing "bass" and I play "guitar". It's fun for us, a way to have family time where we're all doing something together and support each other. However, having discovered Rocksmith 2014, this drummer is turning into a guitarist :) I still like the relative simplicity of Guitar Hero, but honestly, Rocksmith is more enjoyable on a personal level... Will we buy another

  • If you have a large enough market, the simplicity and repeatability of dedicated controllers with buttons chosen precisely for your game's design and so on is attractive.

    If you don't, you run into the problem that low volume production of such gear isn't going to make the price point any more attractive, and it's fairly bulky and expensive for something you can only play a few games with.

    Anyone know what the feasibility might be of, instead, of taking advantage of what is already available? For mics,
    • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:47PM (#49149623)

      For guitar, it's called Rocksmith. Fun game. For voice, there are a number of games that do that already. I'm a lousy singer, so couldn't list off the names of those games as I've never bought them, but I see them any time I go into a game store.

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      1 real guitar

      1 audio cable (nothing special)

      1 smartphone with HDMI output

      1 TV

      Has anyone tried anything like this before? I'd guess many decent phones have the necessary processing power for this.

      (Simpler version: use the phone's microphone and sing.)

  • 1. Try to innovate the controller(s), to get them closer to real instruments, while preserving the fun factor and low cost.
    2. Instead of trying to squeeze hundreds of dollars out of people with DLC songs, allow people to create and share songs for free, and release a few new official songs a month for free. That way you build goodwill, and your game is perceived as a good (and increasing) value over time.

    Just my 2c.

  • I recall having a great time with these types of games with friends. They were kind of like karaoke without the singing part. The later editions with more options for setting difficultly per player (IIRC) made it even more fun since you could have some people who were more experienced being given more of a challenge while a newbie or less coordinated person could play at a lower difficulty level and still have fun.

    The room full of crap that sat around was not fantastic, though. We live in a smaller house at

  • by Aqualung812 ( 959532 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:43PM (#49149591)

    I forget the actual %'s and quote, and couldn't find it, but I remember one of the creators of the guitar game genre explaining that he and his musician friends wanted everyone to experience the fun of being a musician, but knew that becoming one takes a TON of effort.

    So, the goal was to give a lot of the fun of being a real musician, but with a fraction of the effort.

    Most people that like Rock Band or Guitar Hero don't want to learn how to be a real musician. They just want to have fun, and they do!

    My point is, quit trying to point out that they should make it more realistic (real guitars, etc), because that defeats the whole point. If you already know how to play, go play! It will usually be much more fun than Rock Band.
    But, if you don't know how to play and don't want to spend years honing your art, just go have fun.

    Also, this: http://www.xkcd.com/359/ [xkcd.com]

  • was seriously disappointed when opening the article

  • It really seems like one game to me. It's already lasted longer than I expected.

  • Guitar Hero has been entirely upstaged and replaced by Rocksmith, with which you get to play a real guitar and learn to play real music.

  • by lordmage ( 124376 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @04:40PM (#49150059) Homepage

    I know.. I do have a family and my daughter is special and she loves Guitar Hero/Rock Band and I have every one I can get my hands on from GameStop used bins and even have 3 Metallica Guitar Hero (Best Guitar Hero ever!). I will play with her, my son will play with her, and as a family we have a lot of fun. It is something special to enjoy a community game that has some great tunes behind it.

    Enough with the advertising. I just want new guitars and new sounds. I personally prefer Rocksmith but all these games are just fun in the end. It is a family event rather than a family fight.

    I look forward to it myself.

  • I live in an apartment and a couple of years ago my neighbours bought Guitar Hero or something similar. They played with it for about two days. Then they stopped (and sold the hardware) when the building management gave them an ultimatum over the number of noise complaints they had received.

    ...laura

  • Well, at least it ruled for a while. My kids aren't home much, (went to Uni) I couldn't even give the peripherals away last year.
     
    But, it got me to actually start learning to play a real guitar. What Rock band gave you, at times, was the feeling of "Rocking Out". The feeling of somehow being in the music, connected to it somehow, and that is all kinds of awesome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2015 @05:12PM (#49150307)

    Posting as AC because I don't want Activision lawyers coming out of the woordworks, even if I no longer live in the USA.

    Quite honestly, I think the question given in the summary is bunk. Did guitar games go away? Yes, both Guitar Hero and Rock Band got the axe, for two different reasons.

    In the case of Rock Band, it went by the wayside because Viacom bailed out of Harmonix, and they no longer had a company to bankroll them. Combine that with a poorly-timed release of Rock Band 3 when music/rhythm games in general were on the decline, and Harmonix's choice of plumbing a nonexistent niche through the "pro" controllers, and you have a recipe for a disaster. Personally, I loved the "pro" keyboard peripheral for Rock Band 3, and in fact I play it as much as I can to this day. The problem is that Harmonix were not willing to commit to providing note tracks for a significant portion of their existing song library for these pro controllers. Given that both Rock Band and Guitar Hero default to a lowest-common-denominator set list when it comes to DLC - if any one person in an online set doesn't have the song, you can't select it - it was perceived by most gamers as punishing players who were not interested in Pro Guitar or Pro Keys. After all, someone who is dead-set on playing Pro Guitar or Pro Keys isn't going to be buying DLC that's largely keys-centric or guitar-centric, respectively. In fact, even after the "pro" peripherals were released in Rock Band 3, Harmonix continued to publish an enormous volume of DLC that in many cases did not even have a note track for the keyboard peripheral. As a result, many people trying to use these new "pro" peripherals ended up being limited to the on-disc songs despite having sunk a considerable amount of money into DLC that favored their instrument, simply because nobody else had them. A song that has a killer keyboard part is unlikely to have a sufficiently challenging guitar part for any guitar players to buy it, and vice-versa.

    In Activision's case - and I speak from experience, as I worked on most of the iterations of Guitar Hero for the Wii - it was simple market saturation. Any random gamer who liked the music/rhythm genre could have told Activision why they played Guitar Hero: Because it's fun. It wasn't because of specific bands, it was because it was damned fun. Nevertheless, given that most of Activision's executives likely hadn't picked up a game controller since the late 80's, they paid "market research" companies to tell them what gamers wanted. In reality, what these so-called "market researchers" told Activision was more or less what they wanted to hear: Secure licenses for specific bands, and make games that cater specifically to those bands.

    Anyone who has played Guitar Hero could tell you that this was a bad idea, and in fact those of us who were Guitar Hero fans first, and Guitar Hero developers second, screamed at the top of our proverbial lungs that this was faulty reasoning. The average person who is playing Guitar Hero isn't playing it because he likes the bands, he's playing it because he likes music/rhythm games. Similarly, the person who is not playing Guitar Hero is doing so because he's just not interested in music/rhythm games. No amount of band-specific point releases will change that. Ultimately, the executives disagreed, and so Activision set about saturating the market with a new update every three months. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Guitar Hero: Metallica, and even Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, a game that literally only consisted of songs that were already in Guitar Hero 1 and 2, because god knows Activision had to try to wring more dollars out of people since they only owned the franchise as of Guitar Hero 3. By the time Guitar Hero 5 hit shelves, people had already become numb to Activision's unending flurry of titles, and they largely ignored it. Guitar Hero: "Phoenix", the code name for Guitar Hero 7, was well under development at Vicarious Visions when the final word came in in early February of 2011:

  • Here's my thoughts. The problem with the Guitar Hero-like games is that they have nowhere to go.

    They have a somewhat clunky controller that can't be made much more complicated or much more responsive without having something that, in twitch complexity, might as well be playing the real thing. Plus today you could build a training tool that looks a lot like a game by combining a MIDI-guitar with a simplified display showing the next fingering position and which strings to pick for close to the same cost as a

  • You want to make it popular? Add a pure karaoke mode. The libraries a lot of good, high quality tracks compared to the shitty midi-based and sweat shop cover band crap you see in a lot of dedicated karaoke machines at that price point.

    When you get together with a bunch of friends, everyone can sing (even badly) and have fun. Its really frustrating for non-gamers to even consider trying to screw around with one of those plastic guitars and the move to real guitars means you have to have musical talent as

  • I knew a lot of people who had the controllers for those types of games over the years, which they'd either bought along with their consoles in bundles, or been given by relatives. But not once in my life did I ever see anyone actually play games like "Guitar Hero." Not once.

    Yet I knew over a dozen people who had the controllers.

    I wonder what percentage of those overpriced components sat gathering dust, never to be used after the novelty wore off in the first couple of weeks?

  • I never had much interest in the Guitar Hero franchise, because meh.... playing a fake plastic guitar with buttons similar to the old "Simon" game I had as a pre-teen seems rather pointless. People put all that effort into mastering it and it's a useless skill for anything else. Why bother?

    Rocksmith did interest me, because it was all about actually learning songs using your favorite electric guitar. But only a few minutes into that one, I realized I wasn't getting into it either. I like what they tried

    • I don't play guitar to seek fame and fortune. I play guitar because it's hugely rewarding to make music. Designing cryptographic circuits and systems pays the bills and finances my guitar habit. Rocksmith is excellent to get out of a rut. You can just dial up some songs outside your current rut and it drags you right out.

    • FYI - In Rocksmith 2014, there is "Invert Strings" options which makes the display look more like Tab.
  • In the time it took to master mashing buttons and looking like an idiot for a given song, you probably could have learned to actually play it on a real guitar.

    • Why play ANY video games for that matter, when that time could be spent mastering some real-world skill instead?
  • When they started releasing band-specific titles I thought maybe they were on to something.

    Then they released Green Day. Really? Forget them. I don't want Green Day, I want Dire Straits.

    They also released Metallica. Really? No, I don't want Metallica, I want Joe Satriani.

    There were other specific titles where they screwed up by focusing on bands that sold out or were overrated as well, but those were two of the most egregious examples.

Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry. -- R.E. Schenk

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