As of today, the genre of music games is dead and over-saturation is the culprit. A total of 15 Guitar Hero games and eight Rock Band games were released from 2005-2012, which frankly is insane. With no Guitar Hero installments planned in the immediate future, Activision has given up on the horse they have already beaten to death ten times over. Harmonix has moved on as well, creating Dance Central for Xbox Kinect and a new Amplitude in the works. However, Harmonix has not ruled out a return to their flagship Rock Band franchise, as they have stated they plan to bring a new game to the eighth generation of consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U).
The success of Rock Band’s return is dependent on a few key factors, the first of which is respecting the longtime fans’ investments, as well as catering to a brand new audience. All the plastic instrument owners who have their drum sets and guitars stored away in their closets are unlikely to purchase a Rock Band 4 if they are required to buy new plastic instruments that work with their new consoles for a steep price. What would be a simple solution is to create an adapter to allow past Rock Band instruments compatible with new-gen systems. For those who are new to the series, they would be able to buy the complete set of drums, guitars, keyboards and microphones bundled with the game. Through this method, Harmonix could honor the hardcore fans as well as introduce a whole new generation of gamers to music gaming, which was at its peak in the mid-2000s.
Another way that Rock Band can find new life on the new consoles is to simply release just one game. Downloadable songs help make Rock Band stay current with popular music, but the last DLC song made for the series was released in April 2013. Many times have I listed to a new song and wished it was playable in Rock Band. Plenty of bands and music acts have yet to receive the Rock Band treatment, like classic rock bands Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to more current acts like Imagine Dragons and Daft Punk just to name a few. With a steady release schedule of DLC songs, there would be no need for multiple game releases, which is the mistake that plagued music games of the past.
Lastly, there is no video game on the current market quite like Rock Band. Gathering a group of friends together for a a playthrough of the Endless Setlist is an unparalleled experience. Harmonix does not need to reinvent the wheel so to speak for Rock Band 4. These games do not need anymore gimmicks; the series just needs to return with new songs on the new consoles. It is time for a renaissance of the rhythm music game and Harmonix is capable of making plastic instruments cool again.