Rock Band and Guitar Hero simply… erm… rock! These two franchises have a huge and solid fan base, they generate incredible amounts of profits and their hugeness does not seem to be anywhere near over. So, what’s the logical thing to do in such a case? Bring in more games similar to the aforementioned ones! At least that’s what game developers believe.
So, after years when just two competitors were on the market, we are now flooded with similar types of games, all of them trying to get a big slice of the pie for themselves. However, unlike what it’s happening in the casual gaming world, for example, where there are three different types of games cloned by hundreds of developers and STILL being successful, these newly introduced GH and RB clones are more or less failures.
The thing is that none of the released ones manages to reach the potential, none seems to have what it takes to defeat the two giants. Nintendo’s Wii Music was poorly received by critics and players alike, being considered a financial failure. Another game promises to hit the Wii console and has the potential of hitting the big “failure” button, even though it brings a generally better song list: I’m talking about Ultimate Band from Disney.
Konami also tried its hand with the music genre and probably regrets the day it started to think about it: released last month, Rock Revolution only sold 3000 copies, according to NPD reports. The Wii version sold only 2 copies. Although these numbers seem a bit off (releasing a game presenting a pixel bouncing on the screen would sell more than two copies on the Wii) one thing is absolutely clear: there is still no chance for any musical game to take even think of battling against Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
There are various reasons: some of them pretty obvious (like the fact that both GH and RB are already known and owned by the public and they’re considered legends) and some less obvious ones. One other reason that’s still somehow connected with the previous one refers to the bands themselves. Having in mind that Rock Band and Guitar Hero will bring them a huge boost in sales and popularity, there’s no reason for them to go for the lower league and get nothing in exchange, right? Even Metallica’s Death Magnetic was release in the virtual music world at the same time as in the real world!
Another reason seems to be the console itself. Wii Music and Rock Revolution did not manage to put the Wii fans under their spell and things don’t seem to change in the future. Not even Guitar Hero and Rock Band are megahits on Nintendo’s little console – instead, most of the income comes from the current-gen console versions and, partially, from PS2 versions.
Which proves a painful thing: hardware does matter. The little Nintendo console simply does not have the capacity to hold hundreds of songs from different games, while the Xbox and PS3 do. Also, the family-friendly nature of the Wii does not seem to appeal the general theme of this kind of games: after all, rock stars do not look like cute little puffy puppies which are all peaceful and well behaved!
Add to that the fact that there are already a few of free alternatives – for the PC – like Frets on Fire and Unsigned and you’ll have all the reasons to understand why it’s impossible for a new music game to become as successful as Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
As long as there’s no innovation and only copying of an over-used concept, there can’t be success. But, once again, this does not seem to stop the developers – which, is the exact same reason why we can complain, at a larger scale, about the general quality of video games today: offering us a game that follows the same pattern just because it’s “safe” bores us sooner or later. Look at the music genre. Except for the firsts – GH and RB, it’s dead.