Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rock Band vs. Guitar Hero: And the Winner Is...?

C. - None of the Above

And it's not because the games sucked, either. Well, okay, Guitar Hero 5 got some mediocre reviews because of the usual reviewer foibles -- not enough new about it, some songs were boring, arenas were meh, etc. -- but what do you expect from so simple a concept this late in a franchise? And Rock Band 3 got really good reviews and added a ton of new stuff, so what gives?

The video game industry fell out of love with the games and pulled its support, that's what...along with a lot of fans, the music industry, and so forth.

Harmonix has pledged to soldier on in support of its game and its partners, but the sale and fade pulled by MTV Games means that all the media licensing for new content becomes much more difficult. In essence the music industry -- make that entertainment media as a whole -- has decided the games are not profitable enough to maintain their bloated egos, expectations, and overhead.

I figured this would happen sooner or later because, as I mused last time I wrote about the games, these games have never been about the music, they are about the fantasy of being a rock star. They are basically action RPGs for people who dream about platform boots, facepaint and pyro more than about swords and sorcery. It's a different fantasy about a different sort of magic axe. So trying to develop the games as a new form of content delivery for the entertainment industry Misses the Fucking Point. It was never about the songs.

The games themselves might linger on for a while longer and eke out a living. And even if they don't some group of enterprising geeks will package the whole dream -- hardware and software -- into a controller that plugs into whatever passes for a television in 10 -15 years and there will be a hip retro renaissance for the genre.

But for the immediate future it seems that these games have maxed out, overreached and blown up.

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