Originally published on The Daily Iowan Arts blog 9/14/2009
The music/rhythm genre feels older than Keith Richards. And like Mr. Richards, the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series won’t go away as long as there is money to be had.
Every year, we can look forward to at least one entry in both Activision and Harmonix’s respective Guitar Hero and Rock Band series but have to deal with an over saturated market. Since June 2008 Activision released five console games in its series while Harmonix put out two. When Harmonix announced the recently released The Beatles Rock Band would replace a third entry in their series, I applauded there stand against this problem. Alas, I spoke too soon as a Lego Rock Band will come out later this year.
It hurts to see Harmonix not pushing the same innovation when they released the first Guitar Hero entry and were the first to add drums and vocals to the mix. This winter, Activision will release DJ Hero in an attempt to put some fire back in the genre but players don’t need more plastic instruments collecting dust in their living rooms, they need the songs they want.
Block rock aside, it appears Harmonix understands that the genre has become so repetitive it’s all about the songs, which is why they have made it a point to release new songs every week for purchase. I even rented Guitar Hero: World Tour just so I could play Springsteen’s “Born To Run” and “My Lucky Day” for five days and I did the same for the Beatles game.
Despite convincing me to dust off my plastic Fender Stratocaster, I realized the inclusion of the fab four should be the end of the music genre. Other than my personal favorites, there isn’t any other act I’m itching to play as. Activision shares this sentiment as their next game will focus on mash-ups, rather than other artists. However the original innovators need to figure out their next play as the mass market will soon come to this realization as well.