Analysis Details Massive Failure For Music Games

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Analysis Details Massive Failure For Music Games

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Music game sales definitely aren't what they used to be, but exactly how bad are they doing?

The sales of franchises like Rock Band and Guitar Hero once propped the industry up by over a billion dollars in 2008, but for some reason music games have taken a massive hit in years since. A detailed analysis of music game sales from 2008-2010 shows us that consumers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars less than they once were just two years ago, despite the regular release of products in the genre.

Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews reports that music game sales have dropped by more than a factor of five since 2008. After worldwide sales of music games in 2008 hit $1.6 billion, that number dropped to $870 million in 2009. The holiday shopping season of 2010 will likely have an effect on the current year's sales, but Matthews thinks the genre will need a miracle to go above $400 million.

Neither Guitar Hero nor Rock Band have had much success this year, with Guitar Hero's early sales being lower than anticipated and Viacom putting Harmonix up for sale after a similar reception to Rock Band. A possible cause of this huge turn was oversaturation.

Since 2008, the market has seen no less than 14 music game releases from the two primary series alone on various platforms from handheld to console. It doesn't help that other studios jumped in with poorly received products of their own, either. Music games have been everywhere, and their peripherals have been filling up people's homes.

At the core, I personally don't see a huge difference between Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, two games released five years apart, so I can understand why consumers aren't out in force to purchase each new version. In the defense of music game creators, it is a bit of a nightmare to figure out how to distribute a new game that requires a set of peripherals that consumers may or may not already have, but if you ask me the music game genre was terribly mismanaged and this is why a large segment of the audience that was once there just doesn't care anymore.

Source: Gamasutra

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I think the concept was just a phase, phase is now over.

Updating compusory perhiperals (spelling??!?!?!) so you have to buy them aswell just doesn't go down well in a casual market

Yah thanks activision we love ya

The games of 2008 are totally unplayable now and must be re-bought... jeesh... two years old... man, that's broken on so many levels.

Seriously, real instruments FTW.

There is Power Gig, maybe it is the next generation?

Yeeeah... so how's dance central doing again?

I dunno I still have fun playing drums and vocals on Rock Band (at least I'm learning real skills on that those instruments). They definitely had the superior model of DLC over Guitar Hero multiple releases a year. It's a shame the genre didn't have staying power. Rock Band has been one of the few games that has kept my interest over this many years, as it combines two of my favorite past times. Maybe WBI can pick up the Rock Band franchise and revitalize it with their awesome music library.

Well, the only game that you can release multiple times without changing it has to have the word Madden in it. Rock band honestly should not have come out with Rock Band 2 and Beatles, should have waited until they did their realistic guitar.

"for some reason" - really? It would be that they over-saturated the market with what was a gimmick to begin with?

So essentially, Guitar Hero/Activision are to blame for the apparent death of the music game genre.
Move over, Atari, Activision is on its way!

This is what happens when you put out the same damn product multiple times year after year.

People can take only so much shit. Be it plastic crap or otherwise.

Your comment about Atari is telling... as it seems like it's precisely the the thing that killed Atari 25+ years ago, over-saturating the market. Let's just hope it stays limited to the 'Music' games rather then carry out into other portions of the market (like, oh... FPS for example?).

The one thing I don't get is...why does this suddenly begin to suck big time while things like EA Sports, essentially the same formula as seen here (same crap over and over again), keep doing relatively well? I mean...wherein lies the difference? The marketing approach? The business deals? or merely the music fan audience being more bored easily than the sports one?

I think music games were mainly just a gimmic which a lots of people bought one of, had some fun with and then moved on to other games. Simply adding new songs is unlikely to bring many players who have otherwise had their fill back. Plus requiring expensise extras to play a game is never really helpful for sales.

Of those 14 games released since 2008, 300 of them were from Activision. The genre took a huge dive because it was being milked harder than a succulent cow, so gamers' plastic gee-tars weren't even cold yet before the next iteration came out without anything worthwhile added to it except a slightly different controller and different songs.

I imagine that more money would have been made if they had produced fewer standalone games and focussed on DLC to add new songs in to existing games. Obviously a new game would be needed to beef up the graphics and add new features, but you don't need to do that more than once a year and become your own competition.

Because all the songs I want cost so much to play. Like for 9 songs I can buy an entire game off steam or used at block buster.

Well, yeah. Market over-saturation. What did you expect, publishers?

Sad to see that the games keep getting better, but, since the songlists are obviously not, that's a dead end.

I like the rhythm game genre and am sad to see it so full of stuff, but, that's what was going to happen anyway.

I don't know where the sudden hate for the music genre came from, didn't we already get over the "Play a real instrument! Gosh!" phase of these games?

I personally love playing Rock Band with my friends, it's always a great time and occasionally we buy a new song or two off the RBNetwork of 2,000+ songs and we always have a great time.

I highly doubt that the music genre is all of a sudden going to COLLAPSE just because it's making a little less money from the big boom when it came out. Lose prominence in the industry? Sure. Complete and utter destruction? Well, how's Dance Central doing?

This was bound to happen.
The licensing fees alone must have skyrocketed once the record companies realized the gold mine they were sitting on, and really, most of the best songs (for the genre) were absorbed by Guitar Heroes 1, 2 and 3.

Combine that with the general stagnation of the genre, and you have a proverbial runaway train destined for destruction.

I mean, it's not like these games are difficult to make/code otherwise.

Loonerinoes:
The one thing I don't get is...why does this suddenly begin to suck big time while things like EA Sports, essentially the same formula as seen here (same crap over and over again), keep doing relatively well? I mean...wherein lies the difference? The marketing approach? The business deals? or merely the music fan audience being more bored easily than the sports one?

I think the main reason lies in the mindsets and motivations of the audiences. Many sports fans are dedicated to one or several teams in a sport and engage in a yearly cycle with them. This, of course, is timed with the releases of Madden or other sports titles, which have updated rosters, among other things. Buying the newest sports game ensures a fan has his or her own little, up-to-date version of their favorite team(s).

Music fans, on the other hand, don't necessarily want the newest and latest. Most are happy to play old favorites from their beloved bands, and even if they didn't, there are simply too many acts out there to keep a significant number of people happy each year. That's my take, anyway.

Ok, let's get this out of the way first: I love the Rock Band games... Like really, really love them. I have over 200 downloaded tracks and play on a near daily basis. So this is coming from a bona fide fanboy.

I read with interest the article on Gamasutra. One thing to keep in mind with the declining sales numbers is that after the initial launch everyone had acquired their plastic instrument bundles of choice, which carry a much higher price point than the game disc alone. So I think that part of what we're seeing is gamers choosing not to upgrade their fake instruments, but maybe still buying the disc. There wasn't any possible way to sustain the momentum once the peripherals were in everyone's hands.

What I don't understand is why Harmonix has still not been profitable for Viacom. Sure, shipping bulky bundles all over the world must be an expensive endeavor, but here's where things don't add up: I've read in numerous sources that Harmonix sells more DLC (in terms of revenue) than anyone else. They were crowing about gross sales of over a billion(!) dollars a little more than a year after Rock Band was released. And they still can't turn a profit?

Something fishy is going on here, I think. I'm not saying that the market isn't saturated (it is) or that many gamers aren't sick of these kinds of games (they are). What I am saying is that Harmonix is inflating their DLC sales claims, those sales aren't being taken into account, or that their business model is seriously flawed.

Anyone else here care to weigh in on this apparent discrepancy?

well thats sad... I bought mine a couple weeks after launch, I love the damned thing, rb3 is awesome! :( I iz sad nao

A case of success being beaten into pulp by greed. If Activision hadn't tried to get people to buy one or more copies of the same game ever year, with a new controller, maybe this wouldn't have happened. "Sequelization" doesn't work.

I'm not entirely sure sure how this works, but this makes me enjoy my DJ Hero games that much more.

I know, I'm baffled myself (and for the record, I fucking love DJ Hero, even before this article was even conceived).

At this point there is a massive library of songs for rock band, so each new iteration of that is going to be lacking a great set list because there is already a ton of content in the store. I think that if they want to make a great sell again, they need to just offer up a disc, $40 or something, that gives the user a 20-30 song set list of new stuff not yet on the store, and credit to allow the download of 40-50 other songs of the owner's choice off the store. Updated versions of peripherals could come out every now and then as single purchase items, and the main harmonix team could work on other projects like dance central or other new music/rhythm games.

I always thought Rock Band to be better than Guitar Hero anyway, although that may just be because they released the Beatles Rock Band, possibly the only rythm-based game I'll ever need.

That said, I wouldn't mind trying out Rock Band 3 with the keyboard; I've always been interested in learning how to play the piano, but I've never really had the time or inclination to sit down and learn all the ins and outs. Playing a keyboard through a videogame may just be the springboard I need.

Andronicus:
I always thought Rock Band to be better than Guitar Hero anyway...

Yes, the general consensus is that Rock Band is the superior game. Personally, I feel that the charting in RB is far better than GH.

Andronicus:
That said, I wouldn't mind trying out Rock Band 3 with the keyboard;

It's loads of fun, I've hardly put mine down since I got it.

Also, sorry for the multi-quote. Deal with it...

Yog Sothoth:
Anyone else here care to weigh in on this apparent discrepancy?

How much of the DLC money for a song goes to the original artist?

See: How much money did the Beatles get paid for the Beatles Rock Band?

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/08/31/mtv-spent-big-for-the-beatles-slowly-backing-away-from-peripher/

hansari:

Yog Sothoth:
Anyone else here care to weigh in on this apparent discrepancy?

How much of the DLC money for a song goes to the original artist?

See: How much money did the Beatles get paid for the Beatles Rock Band?

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/08/31/mtv-spent-big-for-the-beatles-slowly-backing-away-from-peripher/

Ah, good point. Thanks for the link... I'd forgotten that they threw a giant pile pf money at the Beatles license holders. That certainly accounts for a significant chunk of change...

The problem lies in that the music games have almost no variation at all. Games like Elite Beat Agents should be pushed instead.

Yog Sothoth:

Andronicus:
I always thought Rock Band to be better than Guitar Hero anyway...

Yes, the general consensus is that Rock Band is the superior game. Personally, I feel that the charting in RB is far better than GH.

Andronicus:
That said, I wouldn't mind trying out Rock Band 3 with the keyboard;

It's loads of fun, I've hardly put mine down since I got it.

Also, sorry for the multi-quote. Deal with it...

Oh noes! He quoted me twice! I cannot possibly deal with the horror of having two excerpts from my previous post being used as quotational devices!! [/sarcasm]

If you mean being sent two notifications, then fear not, as only one was sent. The Escapist's site has accounted for your sick, devious dual-quoting fetishes.

Incidentally, have you tried using the proper guitar peripherals as well? If so, how well do they work?

It sad because I want Rockband 3.. I want all the crazy instruments and download packs, I want DJ hero, I want the cool custom instruments from the Beatles and Metallica, etc.

But I can't justify paying top dollar for it. I can get them occasionally, but When the whole package costs more than a new Flatscreen, I'll wait.

I also can't justify the space. these things take up a ton of room. Guitars, Keyboards, DJ boards, Drums, etc. If I wasn't already going out with a beautiful girl who played video games, I'd be pretty hesitant to try and explain a room full of plastic instruments to any lady friends.. or otherwise.

Who would have guessed that heavily repetitious games with the same kind of tasks year after year and a general oversaturation (Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk etc.) would go down the drain...huh

The only "music game" I was ever interested in and bought was Audio Galaxy and that was for under 10€ on Steam, didn't require any peripherals and gosh darn works with every single track on the whole world because of a simple track analyzation algorithm...

I just hope it doesn't take too many years till "Call of Doody" goes down the drain too and the damn "gaming industry" can finally move past it and maybe do something original or cool again for a change...

Andronicus:

Yog Sothoth:

Andronicus:
I always thought Rock Band to be better than Guitar Hero anyway...

Yes, the general consensus is that Rock Band is the superior game. Personally, I feel that the charting in RB is far better than GH.

Andronicus:
That said, I wouldn't mind trying out Rock Band 3 with the keyboard;

It's loads of fun, I've hardly put mine down since I got it.

Also, sorry for the multi-quote. Deal with it...

Oh noes! He quoted me twice! I cannot possibly deal with the horror of having two excerpts from my previous post being used as quotational devices!! [/sarcasm]

If you mean being sent two notifications, then fear not, as only one was sent. The Escapist's site has accounted for your sick, devious dual-quoting fetishes.

Incidentally, have you tried using the proper guitar peripherals as well? If so, how well do they work?

Heh, wasn't worried about offending you; it's against Escapist forum protocol to do that...

I haven't tried the pro-guitar yet as I blew my spending money on the keyboard... I do want to try it, but at the same time it looks a little intimidating to me.

Yog Sothoth:
Heh, wasn't worried about offending you; it's against Escapist forum protocol to do that...

I haven't tried the pro-guitar yet as I blew my spending money on the keyboard... I do want to try it, but at the same time it looks a little intimidating to me.

Really? I didn't actually know that. I've seen lots of people do it without repercussion though, so I expect it's very lax on the minds of the mods. I don't see anything wrong with it personally.

I think it's a shame that it's taken this long for companies to expand more towards simulating the actual controller, and have elected to retain the same incredibly simplified mockery of the instrument, like with the guitar. It's great that people can feel like an awesome musician playing to a packed auditorium with just pressing coloured buttons and flicking a bar like they're actually strings, but each iteration should have been more and more demanding, in that the player should be learning key instrumental techniques, to the point where the difference between game controller and instrument, game-playing and music-making, is virtually non-existant. That's when you can say "this is both an excellent game and instrument-teaching tool".

Obviously a lot of people just wouldn't see the point, but as we can see, this evolution of the music games is required in order to keep the genre not only alive, but flourishing.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. TL;DR --> Games with real guitars would be awesome, make more of those.

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