Saturday, November 20, 2010


Sorry, I want to talk about Sega racers too, but I saw this article and I wanted to address something...

Music Games are on the decline...

In 2008, music games - think series like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, SingStar & DJ Hero - made over $1.6 billion. In 2009, that dropped by almost half, down to $870 million, and in 2010, well...things are looking even worse.

From January through to October, music games have yet to break the $250 million mark. Which considering this is a year which has seen Rock Band 3 (which is a great game), a new Guitar Hero game and a new DJ Hero title is dismal reading.

It's worth saying that I'm a big Rock Band fan who doesn't like Guitar Hero.  You know that.  Anyway, business is business and if people don't buy RB stuff anymore, then well, that's the way that it is.  It does suck that Viacom has sold Harmonix (which I talked about earlier) which means that Rock Band could be without financial support for a while.  This is when things get hairy, but not much I can do about it now.

But that's not the point.   There's some idiotic assertions that I hear quite often and I want to address them.  Here goes:

If the genre's profits are down, then it must mean the games suck. - Bull.  If anything, all the hyperactive little Guitar Hero 3/World Tour kids jumped ship so it's time for the REAL Rock Band fans to come through.  The newer Guitar Hero games tanked anyway so with their numbers down, it makes RB looks worse than it really does.

And another thing--you have to expect the number of peripherals sold to decrease over time.  I already own three RB guitars, two RB drums, and three USB microphones.  I just bought RB3 ($60) and skipped the keyboard ($80).  Most people already own the instruments so expect less profit to be made.  Makes sense, right?

It's only a party game. - Well, the name of the game is Rock BAND so naturally you will want to play with other people.  However, look at it this way--what OTHER games "need" multiplayer?  Let's look at Call of Duty, Halo, any FPS.  So you're just going to play the single-player campaign on your own?  Or are you going to play with other people?  So WHAT if some games are fun with other people?  You're right, cause it's more fun to just play my little RPGs all by myself.

And another thing--you don't need other people to play the game.  As a matter of fact, other people can be annoying.  Ever tried to play for high scores?  Ever tried challenging yourself?  Ever tried to take the game a bit more seriously than that one time you were drunk at your friend's house and you couldn't even hit 25% of the notes on Easy?  Look at Pac-Man, you're eating dots like you hit notes in RB.  So Pac-Man sucks because it doesn't have simultaneous multiplayer?  Screw it.

You want to know where the REAL GH/RB players are?  Check out Score Hero.

The music market is oversatured. - Thank Guitar Hero and Activision for releasing about five music games a year.  Also weird stuff like Power Gig and Rock Revolution.  Since Guitar Hero has the benefit of the name behind it, most people think Guitar Hero is the definitive standard while Rock Band is a ripoff.  However, it's the other way around.  So when Guitar Hero sucks, Rock Band takes a hit too.

And about Rock Band, you have a few recent titles.  You have RB: The Beatles which is a shrine to probably the most popular band in the world.  You've got Lego Rock Band and RB: Green Day which are moreso cop-outs but they at least focus on the material at hand rather than have 30 songs from the title band and another 30 from miscellaneous bands (see GH: Metallica/Van Halen).  Also you can import these songs (barring The Beatles) to major RB titles which makes them leagues over GH where new games are basically separate expansion packs with little connectivity to each other.  Pathetic on GH's part.

And if you want to see oversaturation, just look at all the FPSes available, there you go.  There's only a handful of decent music games while there a ton of viable FPSes.  FPSes up your ass.

There's nothing new to the series, just same-old, same-old. - Rock Band 3 added Pro Guitar/Bass, Pro Keyboards, Pro Drums.  It also added a bevy of other options (such as convenient No-Fail switch) that make the game more accessible to veterans of the series.

If you've been paying attention, then you'll see that Rock Band receives new DLC songs on a weekly basis.  Click here to see a big-ass list.  Currently over 2000 songs!  Now you're not stuck to playing the same 50-80 songs over and over again!

But seriously, take a look at Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, God of War.  Anything REALLY new about these games?  You get your guns or knives, you kill the other guys.  Maybe there's a few new maps and game modes, but nothing significant.  Besides, when significant changes are made, everyone hates them (ex. see MW2's "unbalanced" perks).  Also, sports games like Madden, NBA 2K whatever, same thing with a roster update and a few new touches every year.

What I'm trying to say is....why does Rock Band need to reinvent the wheel?  Why does it suck but other games are fine?  Really?

I don't see what's fun about playing little scrolling notes on the screen/It's repetitive. -  Have you ever tried to play the game past the Medium difficulty?  Ever play on Expert where you get your hands dirty with some big solos and tough chord changes?  If you play on Easy/Medium, most every song in the same.  But when you get to Hard/Expert, the game really becomes taxing.  Try playing for high scores too in solo and band play!  If scores are stupid, then why bother keeping score in ANY game you play?  Really...

Oh, and you don't necessarily have to play Guitar/Bass.  Try drums.  Everyone loves drums.  You have four pads and a foot pedal.  It's a completely different experience.  Or if you don't like that, try singing.  Yes, vocals are fun too.

And what makes it better is that you get to listen to some great music too!  You gotta feel the music, man.  I love incorporating some of my favorite Classic Rock hits into a challenging game...and no, Audiosurf doesn't count since it's not rhythm-based in the slightest.

And most of all, this is a game that really tests your's like sports, chess, card-stacking, what have you.  Not like Zelda or Final Fantasy where you read a guide beforehand and it gives you steps on what to do.  This is the purest form of gaming--play for high score and don't "die."  That's why it's quite intruging.

I get tired of playing the same songs over and over again. - Go buy some DLC.*  Buy Rock Band 1/2 and Lego RB and import songs to your RB3 library (you must get RB2/Lego new though).  You can easily up your library 250+ songs for a modest price.

See, this is what I appreciate about Rock Band.  They actually try to compile hundreds of songs in the same game.  MAJOR CONTENT OVERLOAD.  That makes me happy.  On the other hand, Guitar Hero has a bunch of extra games which act like expansion packs.  Want to play song X?  Well, pop in this CD.  Want to play song Y?  Oops, that's not on the game you have in now, turn off the game and put in another.  Rock Band 3 circumvents this to a grand extent (no Beatles and a few licensed songs) can play most every song you own in the game.  How sweet is that?

To be fair, GH5 has some import features, but lose so many songs due to licensing and the DLC library sucks.  GH is just weak when it comes to gathering a huge setlist.

Rock Band is ruining the music industry/It's for lazy people who want to play real instruments. - That's stupid.  I have zero interest in playing real guitar or being in a band.  My only musical experience comes from piano lessons for several years.  I want to hit those little notes and listen to music at the same time.  And if anything, playing Rock Band has enhanced my musical knowledge ten-fold.  I know plenty more bands than I did before.  So I have to thank Rock Band for what they've done.

I'm no good at it. - Go buy the game and practice.  Cry me a river.

I've played Rock Band and I just don't like it. -  Assuming you actually gave the game a fair shot, then there's no way that I can debate this.  It's like trying to persuade to like baseball or NASCAR--you can't strap them to a chair and force them to like it.  Just give the series some props while you're at it; that's all I ask.


* -  Get started by checking out these sites for recommended DLC so you don't get duped into buying a "stupid" song:

DLC Quickplay, RBDLC, My Top 10 Recommended DLC

That's it.  If there's any other questions that I think of, then I'll address them.  Adios, will post other stuff later.

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