Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Music games: Passing trend rather than a revolution

More solid numbers confirming that the attraction of pressing buttons to pretend to play guitar is waning from Variety:

Fall's highly anticipated "Rock Band 2" and "Guitar Hero: World Tour" have sold well below expectations, trailing their 2007 editions by significant margins. Activision's "World Tour" has thus far sold 1.5 million units domestically, an impressive number compared to most games, but down 55% from "Guitar Hero III," which launched on the exact same day last year. MTV's "Rock Band 2" has moved only 809,000 copies.

It makes album sales seem as healthy as Gillian McKeith on a detox diet, doesn't it? And this is the top end:
The past few months have also seen a number of competitors for "Guitar Hero's" throne arise, including Disney's "Ultimate Band," Konami's "Rock Revolution" and Nintendo's "Wii Music," all of which have seen soft to disastrous sales.

Oh, dear. Music games are still the largest segment of the games market - but there are a lot of segments, and music only represents 16% of games sold. And the figures aren't going in the direction you'd hope for if you saw this a glistening new revenue stream.

It's a toss-up as to if the market was killed because it was swamped with too many, too similar games in too short a period, or if there was only ever going to be a spike-market until the novelty wore off.

Can anyone find a spark to reignite that novelty factor?

Funny you should ask. Taking time off from saving Eurovision, Andrew Lloyd-Webber is planning to try and revive music games with a simple recipe. Show tunes, show tunes, nothing but show tunes:
The shows, which also include Joseph and Cats, may seem like strange fodder for games, but the group says two industry shifts have prompted its interest - the emergence of more female gamers in the traditionally male-dominated game consumer demographic and the big popularity of singing- and music-based titles like Playstation’s Singstar and Xbox’s Lips. Guitar Hero maker Harmonix’s forthcoming Beatles performance game also shows how music brands can be translated in to play.

The first Lloyd-Webber titles will let players sing along as characters in the composer’s shows and could involve elements of “audition”, just like in his BBC shows I’d Do Anything and How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and last year’s Lloyd-Webber-themed episode of American Idol.

A music track you sing along the words to? Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? It could be a whole genre all of its own. And you know what? I could see that going down well in Japan.

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