Co-Optimus - Editorial - Who's Next? The Future of Band-Centric Music Games

Rock Band 2

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Who's Next? The Future of Band-Centric Music Games - Page 2

Now that we've looked at the bands behind the games, what do they have in common?  What attributes must a band have before it is considered as a candidate for its own game?  It's an inexact science, but there do seem to be a few common threads.  If a band has most, if not all of these qualities, it would be a good choice for a music game.

Big Sales Numbers

A no-brainer?  Probably so.  But if there is one thing all these bands have in common, it's amazing sales figures.  Taking a look at Wikipedia's information (surely not the most reliable source, but sufficient for our needs here), the clear leader here is The Beatles.  With one billion records sold, they are the best selling band of all time.  AC/DC's 200 million comes next, followed by Aerosmith at 150 million and Metallica at 100 million.  Van Halen and Green Day have sold only (if such a term is appropriate when considering such number) 80 and 65 million records, respectively.  One might think there are few bands to have reached this level, but there are literally dozens of bands with sales in these ranges.  This is a good thing for fans of music games.

Sustained Popularity

With one exception, each of these bands has remained popular over time.  For decades, Aerosmith and AC/DC have had hit songs.  Metallica, while less mainstream than the others due to being in the heavy metal genre, had a chart topping album just four years ago.  Green Day was first popular in the mid 90s, but has won several Grammy awards recently, due to the success of their last two albums.  And then there's the Beatles; even though they broke up years ago, their 2000 hits compilation "1" sold 31 million copies.  It's clear that long-term appeal is an important factor in the equation.  The one exception on the list is Van Halen.  Repeated comebacks by the band have largely fallen flat, and are another factor in the game's failure. 


Genre Matters

Of all the criteria, this one is probably the most flexible, and at the same time, hardest to define.  In the original Guitar Hero, the focus was on hard rock and heavy metal.  More recently, other genres have found their way into music games, notably country and pop music.  For the most part, though, the bands with their own games would be considered rock.  Metallica is the heaviest, but the rest are certainly hard rock, and would have fit right into early GH games.  The Beatles are harder to nail down to one genre; most of their music is a bit more pop, but not all.  I would hardly be surprised to see a band-centric game featuring a country act, or a pop group (Band Hero was practically Guitar Hero: Taylor Swift, after all).  But as we look into the crystal ball to speculate on future band games, we'll focus on the most common genre for band-centric games: hard rock.

Few Previous Songs In Games

As with the previous category, there is quite a bit of wiggle room here.  Metallica had an entire album available as DLC before their game was released, for example.  But for the most part, the biggest hits of each of these bands were not available to play in music game form.  Several great bands who might be able to pull off a band-centric game already have quite a bit of content out there.  Queen has sold an estimated 300 million albums, but they are well represented in music games already, especially on the Rock Band platform.  A more recent band, with three Grammy Awards under their belt, the Foo Fighters, have many songs already available as well.  Selling a game composed of music that is already available in video game form would be very difficult, indeed.

Of these four traits, big sales and recent popularity are probably the most important.  In part two of this editorial series, we'll take a magnifying glass to bands like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, and The Rolling Stones, and see how they stack up to our criteria.  In the meantime, why not tell us which band you think deserves a music game all of their own?


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