Co-Optimus - Editorial - Music Game Meltdown

Music Game Meltdown - Page 4

Boss fights were an interesting but largely unnecessary addition to GH3

In 2008, Guitar Hero and Rock Band continued to be excellent moneymakers for Activision and MTV. Two Guitar Hero games for the Nintendo DS allowed you to get your strumming fix on the go. The first band-specific music game, Guitar Hero Aerosmith, hit stores in the summer, and the major fall release, World Tour, brought drums and vocals to the Guitar Hero series. Harmonix continued strong DLC support, and followed up their first game’s success with Rock Band 2

At this point, the genre was well developed, having sold plenty of plastic instruments and downloadable tracks in addition to the disc-based games themselves. Not content to rest on their laurels, however, both major players in the genre pumped out more games for 2009. The Guitar Hero franchise had no less than six releases throughout the year: two band-centric discs, for Metallica and Van Halen, the compilation Smash Hits, and Guitar Hero 5 were joined by the more pop-focused Band Hero and DJ Hero, with an entirely new controller. Harmonix scored the rights to the biggest band in music with fall release The Beatles Rock Band, and catered to a younger audience with LEGO Rock Band. In June, Rock Band went portable with Unplugged for Sony’s PSP. 

Best music game ever?

Here, it all came crashing down. The market simply could not sustain itself. More than ten music game releases in one year strained the wallets of even the biggest genre fans. All the different instrument bundles took up a tremendous amount of shelf space for retailers. Add in the various Track Pack releases for Rock Band, versions of each game for up to four home consoles and the portable systems, and you had dozens of distinct music game packages on shelves at any given store. The genre had pushed too far, and would never really recover. Sales were disappointing. 

As bad as 2009 was, 2010 was worse. Even with a drastically reduced released schedule, sales were abysmal. DJ Hero 2 sold even less than its predecessor. Green Day Rock Band was a solid entry but didn’t move many copies. Even a return to the harder rock roots of the series couldn’t save Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock, which barely moved off the shelves at all. Rock Band 3, with its long-awaited keyboard controller, was thought to be the last hope for the genre. But these hopes were dashed after sales data came in; even though the game had all but perfected the musical experience, it sold even worse than Warriors of Rock. For all intents and purposes, the plastic-controller music game genre was dead as of late 2010

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