The latest issue of Edge has an interesting article about rhythm action games and whether the poor sales in 2009 is the beginning of the end for the genre. Their year-over-year sales dropped a whopping 46% in 2009 though it was the best selling genre of December so it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, Harmonix ceo Alex Rigopulos thinks it’s quite the opposite:
“I absolutely do not believe that rhythm-action gaming has reached its peak.” Really? I do but go on; “Of course, 2009 was a tough year with the recession, which especially affects music games given the relatively high price point of instrument bundles. But in the long term, people’s passion for music isn’t going away, and rhythm gaming will continue to provide people with a deeper level of engagement with the music they love. So, yes, I do think that future music games will exceed the sales success of the last generation.”
Valid point about the recession but since gamers have broken that cycle of re-buying the same plastic guitars and drum kits not to mention how the new discs aren’t vastly different to previous year’s, is it really safe to say that future sales will exceed latter generations? Ever the ying to Harmonix yang, current Guitar Hero developers Neversoft disagree:
“As far as sales exceeding GHIII’s in the future, only time will tell, but it’s a tall order,” says project director Brian Bright “I think user-created content is key to the evolution. If you can’t create or edit licensed music due to copyright laws then you’re limited to pretending to play someone else’s music. I think the key is to create music, but make it compelling to create, so the game is in the creation, not the playback.”
Rigopulos agreed and took the opportunity to plug the Rock Band Network which allows unsigned bands to showcase their creations via Rock Band. If indeed user-created content is the future as is the popular and healthy DLC tracks then hopefully we’ll see a shift from gradually redundant disc-based rhythm games to more of an iTunes model. Like Bright says, only time will tell. Check out E211 for the full story.