Guitar Hero: World Tour

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Billy's Soapbox: Disc or DLC? The Great Music Game Content Debate, Part One
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Billy's Soapbox: Disc or DLC? The Great Music Game Content Debate, Part One

Guitar Hero wasn't the first music game, but it was arguably the most influential.  However, the team behind the original Guitar Hero has split, and now there are two series, Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  Both series are amazing as far as co-op goes, and the genre has definitely reached a point of maturity.  Hundreds of songs are available for gamers to rock out to.  One of many differences between the two franchises is how new music is delivered to the player.  Guitar Hero leans to a disc based approach, with a small amount of DLC interspersed between new game releases.  Rock Band is on the other end of the spectrum, almost entirely focusing on downloadable content.

So which is best?  Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks, that much is certain.  Today, we'll take a look at disc based content.  Examples of this include Guitar Hero Metallica, the upcoming Guitar Hero Smash Hits, and the AC/DC Track Pack for Rock Band.  First we'll consider the good, then the bad, and we'll do the same for downloadable content delivery in a future article.

Why Disc Based Content Is Good:

Portability: Being able to take an entire disc full of new songs with you is very convenient.  You can take your Guitar Hero Metallica disc or your AC/DC Rock Band track pack anywhere, and it will play just fine.  There's no need to be signed in, and no worrying about hauling a fragile hard drive or easily misplaced memory card with you.  Taking your huge library of DLC on the go is a major hassle, as anyone who has tried to do so can attest.


Exposure to new content: I call this one the "Coheed and Cambria" factor, as I was unaware of that group until I played Rock Band.  Even rabid music fans don't know every song by every band out there.  Chances are, if you are playing a disc full of dozens of songs, you are going to find something new.  This can be a bit of a two edged sword, as there is no guarantee that you'll like all the songs that are new to you.  However, you might just find a new favorite band.

Achievements and Trophies
: For those of us who actually care about it, having a full set of achievements to play with is a nice upside to disc based content.  It won't be a deciding factor for everyone, of course.  If they are handled right, achievements and trophies can add to any game's replayability, and music games are no exception.  In other games, DLC does often add achievements, but so far that is not the case with music games.


More than just music
: This one is specific to the band-based Guitar Hero games, but is certainly worth mentioning.  There are tons of extras in these games that add value; the more you like the band, the better the value.  Interviews, behind the scenes videos, trivia, and more are definitely a step in the right direction for disc based compilations.  You won't find this stuff in DLC, though.

Resale or trade-in value
: Keeping up with all the music games is very expensive.  When the latest and greatest new title comes along, it might be a good idea to get rid of games that are just collecting dust.  You can easily sell disc based games on Ebay, or even trade them in at a video game store.  Disc based games have a resale value that downloaded content does not.