Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Death of Guitar Hero

First let’s get the obvious “our thoughts are with the people who were laid off” out of the way.

Now, how does it effect Rock Banders (and gamers in general)?

Well we could see the signs at least a year ago. Rock Band 3 was announced with the “real guitar” and piano hardware, what was Guitar Hero’s response? Warriors of Rock? Although the game has a bunch of good songs (most notably Rush 2112), it seemed like a desperate last gasp in comparison to RB3.

It’s only a wonder this didn’t happen sooner. Think about it, how did Rock Band advertise? It didn’t. Game sites and word of mouth made Rock Band popular. Now look at Guitar Hero and all those Bob Seger commercials. How much did those cost?

And then of course there’s the market over saturation. Seriously: Warriors of Rock, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, Guitar Hero 4, Band Hero, DJ Hero, Guitar Hero Aerosmith, Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero Van Halen, DJ Hero 2, Guitar Hero Metallica. And those are just off the top of my head! What was the logic in this? I could go on for hours, so let’s get to the benefits.

The immediate benefit is that Rock Band is suddenly a monopoly over the genre. And since Harmonix is a pretty well liked by everyone, this is sort of like having Santa as president or something. If a band wants to be in a music game they pretty much have to go to Rock Band.

The next big thing is that it forces anyone who is a new entrant to the music genre or a Guitar Hero fan to go to Rock Band. This will greatly help the franchise which is frankly no prize right now either.

What are the problems? First is the people who are saying this is the death knell of music games. It’s not. It’s sort of like saying HD-DVD dropping out of the HD wars was signifying the end of HD movie discs. Yet Blu-Ray is still around.

Even then, it’s not some sort of revelation that music games are in a slump. The problem is the image this presents might turn off artists from using Rock Band.

Finally the worst part is how shaky it makes Rock Band look. If a well established game like Guitar Hero can just collapse, can the same happen to Rock Band? A couple of songs and I could have been a Guitar Hero player. That’s a lost investment in hardware, software and downloadable content. They can at least use the hardware for RB3 but even then, what happens if Harmonix closes? Then where would we turn?

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