Giant Bomb News

49 Comments

Have Rhythm Games Peaked?

An analyst from EEDAR thinks Guitar Hero and Rock Band are on the decline, though they've still got plenty of legs left.

A golden age of rhythm games that will never end!
As those who know me can attest, I've been a vocal, long-time fan of rhythm games. I imported Japanese copies of the Bust A Groove games for the PlayStation, at E3 I once unsuccessfully begged a KOEI PR rep to give me a piece of Gitaroo Man booth art, and the fact that I was among the first press to ferret out the original Guitar Hero in Kentia Hall at E3 2005 is a point of petty pride for me. As exciting as it's been to see the genre's popularity blow up and for the good folks at Harmonix to finally see some well-deserved success, even I get worn out on the genre after a while. The dueling releases of Rock Band and Guitar Hero for the past two years, while totally awesome, have been friggin' exhausting and fraggin' expensive. The competition has been great, but I just don't know if I can sustain two of these games every year like this.

Confirming what we all kind of already knew, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich released a report today predicting “decline by more than 50 percent series-over-series for November” for Guitar Hero World Tour. Though the availability of crazy Black Friday Guitar Hero III deals is credited with stealing some of World Tour's thunder, Divnich suspects that the mass-market demand for both Guitar Hero and Rock Band is “reaching its peak.” Simply put, people are getting worn out on all these plastic guitars, though that's not to say that rhythm games are going to go the way of increasingly obscure extreme sports games. A comparison is drawn in the report to the Dance Dance Revolution franchise, which “is still today a very profitable franchise for Konami, even though that series reached its peak a long time ago.”

Divnich predicts that we'll be seeing both Guitar Hero and Rock Band games for a good 10 years from now, which is kind of mind-blowing to consider. Will we have run out of music by then? Will you still care?
49 Comments
Posted by Ryan
A golden age of rhythm games that will never end!
As those who know me can attest, I've been a vocal, long-time fan of rhythm games. I imported Japanese copies of the Bust A Groove games for the PlayStation, at E3 I once unsuccessfully begged a KOEI PR rep to give me a piece of Gitaroo Man booth art, and the fact that I was among the first press to ferret out the original Guitar Hero in Kentia Hall at E3 2005 is a point of petty pride for me. As exciting as it's been to see the genre's popularity blow up and for the good folks at Harmonix to finally see some well-deserved success, even I get worn out on the genre after a while. The dueling releases of Rock Band and Guitar Hero for the past two years, while totally awesome, have been friggin' exhausting and fraggin' expensive. The competition has been great, but I just don't know if I can sustain two of these games every year like this.

Confirming what we all kind of already knew, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich released a report today predicting “decline by more than 50 percent series-over-series for November” for Guitar Hero World Tour. Though the availability of crazy Black Friday Guitar Hero III deals is credited with stealing some of World Tour's thunder, Divnich suspects that the mass-market demand for both Guitar Hero and Rock Band is “reaching its peak.” Simply put, people are getting worn out on all these plastic guitars, though that's not to say that rhythm games are going to go the way of increasingly obscure extreme sports games. A comparison is drawn in the report to the Dance Dance Revolution franchise, which “is still today a very profitable franchise for Konami, even though that series reached its peak a long time ago.”

Divnich predicts that we'll be seeing both Guitar Hero and Rock Band games for a good 10 years from now, which is kind of mind-blowing to consider. Will we have run out of music by then? Will you still care?
Staff
Edited by TheGreatGuero

I think they definitely have peaked. After renting GH3 when it came out, I decided to throw in the towel on rhythm games. It may have had a solid soundtrack, but the game itself just seemed so uninspired and lazy. I already had GH1 and GH2 on my PS2, with two guitars total, and considering the games were moving to next-gen consoles and my PS2 guitars wouldn't be able to join them, I had to pass. I've still always wanted to play Rock Band, but the price is just outrageous. These games had a good run, but I'll no longer be playing them, no matter how much I love the idea of having La Bamba in GH:WT. Oh, how it tempts me still.

Posted by PowerSerj

As long as there are music-loving gamers, there will be Rock............Band. And Guitar Hero. And Flash-based rhythm games.

Posted by wefwefasdf

I just picked up Rock Band 2 tonight. How ironic...

Posted by pause422

I hope GH at least starts to fail hard. It fucking deserves to, and of course after that many games people don't find, YET another GH absolutely a must have.

Posted by TaintedSun

They've peaked for me. Perhaps I'll get back into them eventually, but I played Guitar Hero everyday for a year and now I'm bored of it.

Posted by Kraznor

I blame Activision for over-saturating the market. Weren't there four Guitar Heroes released this year? At least EA understands the value of downloadable content. I see myself continuing to play Rock Band for some time. Still never attempted the drums in any serious way.

Posted by Disclaim3r

I frequently play Rock Band 2, but I don't know how they would take rhythm games any further without getting even more ridiculous.

Posted by Shadow2K6

Pretty much.  Between Activision over-saturating the market and EA just putting every song you would want in a rhythm game up for download.  I played a lot of GH3 and a lot of Rock Band/Rock Band 2.  Got bored of it eventually.

Posted by TheWorstPlayerEver

I stopped playing rhythm based games after Guitar Hero 2 on PS2. It just got so old so fast that I wasn't interested anymore in playing the same 5 songs over and over and over and over again.  The only way rhythm games can live is if they bring back Parappa the Rappa

Posted by LCad
TheWorstPlayerEver said:
I stopped playing rhythm based games after Guitar Hero 2 on PS2. It just got so old so fast that I wasn't interested anymore in playing the same 5 songs over and over and over and over again.  The only way rhythm games can live is if they bring back Parappa the Rappa
You got tired of playing "the same 5 songs over and over and over and over again" and you want them to bring back  PaRappa?
Posted by Det1

God I hope not.
I'm still waiting for Elite Beat Agents 2.

Posted by Snail

I predicted this. It was repetitive to start with.

Posted by bshirk

I still think there's room for other types of rhythm games, but the instruments now are starting to show their age.  They might want to consider adding a keyboard or another instrument to a future music title.  I've never really been a fan of Rock, but I still thought the Rock Band games were a lot of fun and same with Guitar Hero.  Personally, I'd like to see a freestyle rap game out there, or a game where you could make beats.  I don't want to a see game filled with music from mainstream rappers though, because most of them use the same repetitive lyrics.

Posted by LeBart

The real problem to me is that there is not much more to do with the notes highway. We are basicaly playing the same patterns over and over again with different music. I don't think we'll ever get the same level of excitement that we had when we first played Iron Man or Bark at the Moon.

They either need to come up with something completly new, and I don't mean another set of drums ; or release  their games less often. One every year plus DLC, that's way too much.
Posted by Rinkalicous

"God I hope not.
I'm still waiting for Elite Beat Agents 2."

Sing it, brother!

Posted by JoelTGM

Never figured out what's so fun about memorizing button presses.

Posted by Endogene
Det1 said:
"God I hope not.
I'm still waiting for Elite Beat Agents 2."
Oeundan and Guitar hero are not quite the same type of rythem games.
Posted by lordofultima

Doubleshock, if you're spending your time memorizing the note charts, you're playing it wrong.

Edited by addictedtopinescent

Yeah, I have enough plastic instruments in my house now, time to stop.

Posted by SumoX

I kind of figured this was going to happen, for several reasons really.

1. Market oversauration- Guitar Hero just seems to release tons of iterations. I know that in about a year's span, they put out 3 games (GH3, Aerosmith, World Tour). Similarly, Rock Band took a good idea (DLC) and butchered it by releasing a new game a year after the release of the first. The purpose of DLC is to eliminate/reduce the need for more disc based games, and already they put out a full fledged sequel and the AC/DC track pack.

2. People are probably tired of the hardware. While I'm thrilled that they added more instruments (especially drums), given that it seems to be a all-or-nothing deal with these bundles, people don't want to have several plastic guitars laying around, among the other instruments. I think for this genre to survive, it's going to have to reduce the amount of hardware required per game and with each release, scale back the number of units that are bundles.

3. There's no place left to go. Really, what more could be done with the genre? Sure, after Guitar Hero, people probably thought of the whole band concept...and now? Harmonix didn't seem to really try for anything great (other than being able to import RB tracks into RB2- props to that) and Activision's create-a-song really isn't cutting it. I could see a game like DJ Hero doing reasonably well, but other than that, I just don't see what else can be done with this genre.

I'm actually kind of happy to see these games not performing as well as expected. I'm unable to buy the games since I don't want to move halfway around the world in 8 months trying to lug all the instruments from GH:WT (sorry, I like the RB songs better, but the drums are superior)...so when I finally do make it back, prices will have hopefully lowered significantly.

Posted by sloppyjoe

I kind of feel the same way.  I'm not looking forward to a Rock Band 3.  Though I've been playing rhythm games for a good 6 years or so, and I always enjoy the good ones.

Posted by bgenso

For someone who has not purchased a single Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, what should I get? Should I just get Guitar Hero World tour? I loved Drum mania in the arcades in Asia. Just wanted an opinion.

Edited by goodlucktj

jeff mentioned a couple podcasts ago about picking up a gh/rock band guitar or drumsticks and realizing how he feels totally done with this genre.


i couldn't have agreed more. i played through the original gh on all difficulties. a friend had gh2 the next year. i played one song on it, walked away and thought to myself, 'i am totally done with this shit.'

from there on out, the only time i've been behind a plastic instrument involved friends and drinking.
Posted by Milkman

I, for one, am done with plastic instruments.

Posted by Silver

I burned out on rhythm games last year.

Guitar Hero revolutionized the rhythm genre. Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III and their spinoffs lived off of and expanded upon the buzz that Guitar Hero created. Rock Band made the logical evolution by adding drums and singing to the mix.

What do we get this year? Toy drum kits with pressure-sensitive pads and cymbal attachments. Oh, and exclusive to Guitar Hero this year, a broken music creation mode that makes use of a broken touch-sensitive area on the guitar controller's neck. After three years of Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, It's not enough to keep me interested, and I am certainly not paying the money and freeing the space required for the new, slightly enhanced toy instruments required to take advantage of the new features.

The rhythm genre is in need of a new revolution. For all the praise that Guitar Hero and Rock Band get for revolutionizing the genre, without the toy instruments, they are no different from Parappa the Rapper or Space Channel 5. We aren't playing music; we're hitting buttons in time with the rhythm and melody. This needs to change, and in a way better implemented than in Wii Music.

Guitar Hero and Rock Band can continue successfully as they are for several years, but from now on they'll be like the Tony Hawk series. There will be a core who buy the games every year, but it will decrease every year and it won't be especially excited about new releases anymore.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Rock Band 2 is almost my most played game on my 360, and I am fine with more of it, as long as it is less hardware, more songs.

Edited by SmugDarkLoser

please, that's a joke.
Rhythm games have only peaked to the closed minded.  If you mean hit one of the buttons (think ddr, guitar hero, rock band, etc.) then the answer is yes.

That being said, just look at some of these flash games, what if these concepts were taken to the next level?:
http://www.newgrounds.com/game/rhythm

In general, rhythm games have to realize that although they are rhythm,  they're music games first and foremost.  How about a world where combat is timed to the music and if you jump on the bass beat you'll go higher?  How about where the slower the tempo of music, the slower things go in the area and there are tempo modifying items to get and use?

The fact that these rhythm games base themselves in rock for the most part and not a form of techno/electronica means obviously not


Actually... I think I know what my next flash experiment will be

Posted by AndrewB

That report along with the report about Rock Band 2 (along with a number of other "franchises") underperforming should not be read as the franchise dying until *after* the recession/depression. Of course the sales of extravagant, +$100 games will take a dive in this day in age. Of course, I'm not saying that lack of innovation and interest is not also to blame. Really, who wants to buy multiple sets of instruments and games for an idea that can only be taken so far.

Posted by ep_driver

I was into the rhythm game thing for awhile. However, I'm so sick of looking at toy plastic guitars sitting next to my t.v. that I want to give them to the little ghetto mexican babies in my neighborhood. My Rock Band drums have been sitting disassembled in a corner for months know and only God knows the next time the pieces of it will reunite. These games were fun while they lasted, but I think it's time for some euthanasia.

Posted by spiceninja

I can see Rock Band going on to become greater than what it is but Activision insists on milking out Guitar Hero and I feel like eventually everyone is going to get burned out. Sadly they'll probably take Rock Band down with them since it's such a similar game.

Edited by KnifeySpoony

I bought guitar hero 3 last year as I enjoyed playing guitar hero 2 so much at friends' houses. It was my first and last guitar hero game I'll buy; the guitar hasn't left the box it came in after I moved a few months ago.

Posted by PLWolf

The software isn't done peaking, but I'm sure the hardware sales have peaked. I know the last piece of hardware, I want, is the GH Drums. After that, I'm done buying hardware and will stick to the software only.

Posted by MKHavoc

I really don't see the need to make more of these games from the way Harmonix has been keeping up with DLC.

Posted by GioVANNI

I hate the Rock Band guitar.

Posted by Terrell

Have rhythm games peaked? No definitely not.

Have Rock/Guitar based Rhythm games peaked? More than likely Yes

Have Drum based rhythm games peaked? Not yet.


The point I'm trying to make with all of this, is that it's not that rhythm games have peaked, its just that ever since the first guitar hero, they have all been the SAME game. It's time for new genres of music, new mechanics, etc.

Posted by Tarakun

I say bring back DDR, at least then we got some goddamn exercise.

Posted by Media_Master

Music games will be around, for how long, who knows...

Posted by StaticFalconar

the same thing could be said for the peaking of DDR, but Gh came around.

Maybe band related music genre peaked, but not rhythm games.

Posted by bornagain888

I'm always playing Rockband 2 [ with RB 1 on download ] and never seem to tire of it. Its just a relaxing way to enjoy Music after work when I'm to burned out to do anything else. I realize lots of people won't stick with the music games, but the same could be said about playing real instuments. I am bummed by  Activision/ Neversoft running GH into the ground.

Edited by dtran1212

heck, i've haven't yet even picked up Rock Band 1.  the only time i've spent playing a music rhythm game was when im at best-buy or walmart , so i really don't give a rats ass about music rhythm games

Posted by SubTact

Activision has certainly been trying to squeeze out as much loot out of the Guitar Hero franchise.

Harmonix's model is a lot better, putting a focus on DLC.  If a song I like or think would be fun to play in the game becomes available, I buy it.  Rock Band 2, to me, was not milking the franchise, as it added and tweaked a bunch of minor things, which added up to more than it's sum of parts.  Plus, it gives you an extra 84 tracks, the ability to bring most of your Rock Band 1 tracks with you for $5 and works with all the DLC you've bought.

If you look at the improvements/changes made between GH2 and GH3, it's basically boss battles (which I personally felt took away from the experience) and "power ups" in multiplayer battle modes.

I think the music mechanic of Rock Band has reached near perfection, but I believe there is still room for growth.  The stated goal of Rock Band was to create a compelling and accessible band/rock star simulator, and I see ways where this can go.  Basically add a RPG like layer to World Tour mode, where you're given more choices and more visible/enjoyable consequences of those choices.  Basically play out the career of your band. Make choices about nearly every aspect. 

There's a web game that's been around for a while called Project Rockstar (www.projectrockstar.com) where you're a manager who makes all the decisions about the bands you manage and your bands compete against other people's bands.  There are definitely some elements of this game that could be applied to a potential Rock Band RPG mode, regardless if it's just a single player mode.  The core music playing mechanic (aka playing songs) would basically amount to the "battle" system of RPGs, where there'd be a major hurdle of how to capture the leveling up character progression of a traditional RPG in a largely skill based mechanic, without killing what makes playing music in RB so enjoyable.

Anyways that's the gist of it, I'm not sure how deep/elabrate Harmonix will go, but I'm sure they are working on adding more choice, so you can have your band be exactly the kind of band you want them to be, and have it effect the game world visually.

Posted by MaddProdigy

They took it too fast. Me and my friends still like to chill and play guitar hero 2 and 3 let alone aerosmith and WT, and the rock band stuff we never got into cause its way too expensive. If they had slowed it down, guitar hero 3 coulda lasted them at least this year. Also, they should have found some kind of common ground with the guys who made Rock Band, like at least only release something from each franchise once a year or somtin, this competition is annoying. and very. very expensive. their losing money in the long run.

Edited by 0bserve

I think they're beating a dead horse with all the sequels.  Needs moar cowbell, literally.

Posted by Equal_Opportunity_Destroyer497

I agree that this rhythm game hype train seems to be slowing down. I bought Guitar Hero 1 the day it came out and have been rocking steady ever since, but some time after the release of Rock Band 1 it kind of dawned on me that maybe I was starting to get tired of that experience. But as soon as some great DLC somes along I'm right back in the middle of the shit. Activision is definitely going to drive the GH franchise into the ground, so if any franchise survives, I think it'll be Rock Band. Not pumping out iteration after iteration in favor of DLC is definitely the way to go. Buying a shit-ton of plastic instruments will make one weary as well. Anyways I don't see this happening anytime soon. Give it a year or two.

Posted by kardon16

I think the touch pad on the GHWT guitar was unnecessary

Posted by BranDong

Activision is fucking killing guitar hero..

Posted by Shuborno

Each single guitar/band game has so much content that it really isn't necessary to have an iteration every year.  I love Rock Band and am happy I got it, but I have yet to pick up Rock Band 2, since it's a completely unnecessary release for me.  I've played through the guitar tour and vocal tour, and I'm still working on the drum tour on Expert.

Now there are two competing brand franchises with multiple releases every year?  Why would anyone need that?

I think Harmonix had the approach right initially.  Sell me the game once, let me choose if I want the upgraded hardware (I will probably get the RB2 drums at some point), and keep giving me new content to choose from.

Posted by get2sammyb

I played Guitar Hero 3 for the FIRST time (never played Rock Band or Guitar Hero EVER before) and aside from the song selection being woeful based on the kind of things I'd like to play... I just found the gameplay dull.

I've missed out on nothing and personally, am glad analysts think they've peaked because I'm sick of hearing about them.