Prior to last year’s launch of Rock Band, we all used to live in a rock and roll rhythm game utopia where Guitar Hero II, with it’s occasional downloadable content and infrequent sequels, ruled the roost and no one knew any better. Then, with the acquisition of Harmonix by MTV, everything changed. Gamers now had the opportunity to buy one pack that had a guitar, drums, microphone and downloadable content each and every week. They were given a platform, rather than a game, to suck their wallets dry and they rejoiced.
Fast forward to the present, Rock Band has chugged along with integrated downloadable content stores (for the Xbox 360 and PS3 anyway) and having delivered new content each week since launch. At $1.99 a song, Harmonix, MTV and EA have teamed up to bleed gamers dry in a long standing, socially acceptable way: they nickel and dime us. Now, that sounds more treacherous than it is because there is always the alternative.
Despite Rock Band showing Activision and Neversoft the way to a constant, flowing stream of revenue, which may be second only to the impressive way Blizzard pulls in $15 a month from it’s 10 million plus World of Warcraft users, the makers of Guitar Hero have instead delivered Guitar Hero III, which does not incorporate any of the songs from previous Guitar Hero titles, and plan on delivering three more versions of the game, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: World Tour (which will incorporate drums and microphone for the first time in the series) and the recently uncovered Guitar Hero: Metallica. It was revealed today that the Aerosmith version of Guitar Hero will not be able to incorporate the songs from previous titles or the downloadable songs released for them.
It’s one thing to be charged a few dollars per song when they are a la carte and, presumably, will work with future versions of the game, which is believed to be the case with Rock Band. It is an entirely other matter when gamers are expected to pay anywhere from $60 to $100 every 5 months for new songs and slightly modified gameplay and guitars.
Every gamer out there has their favroite franchise that they will buy mutiple versions of or pay a premium to get that DVD they’ll never watch, but it makes them better to have it than not, but being expected to pay a minimum of $180 in a 10 month span, which is what a Guitar Hero fan will have to do from June 2008 to March 2009 to get just the next three games, minus peripherals, in the series, is unacceptable.
Guitar Hero III launches this June and there is no reason to believe that it will not sell well but what about the sequel five months after that and five months after that? All the while Rock Band selling song after song on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. I would hope that gamer let Activision know that paying for new songs, while having to leave old favorites behind, every five months is not the best way to do business anymore. Gamers want choice. They have chosen to purchase more than 10 million songs for Rock Band in just over 6 months and just may choose to skip on every version of Guitar Hero if they can simply purchase the few songs they like right from the comfort of their living room each and every week.