The music game platform of my dreams

Tonight, I have been playing my fresh copy of SingStar: Queen, and it has brought to mind a couple of problems with the current batch of music games (Rock Band, Guitar Hero) as they exist. More specifically, my problems are with the DLC platforms these games have created.

  1. Song purchases are locked to a specific title on a specific console. SingStar songs will not work with Lips. Rock Band tracks won't work with Guitar Hero. Even Rock Band 360 tracks will not work with Rock Band PS3.
  2. Songs are purchased for in-game use only. It seems counter intuitive that I pay to play a song in a game, but I can't throw it on my MP3 player.
First, I realize that none of these problems will ever be fixed as they are problems for me, the consumer, and the guilty parties would stand only to lose money by fixing them. Second, I realize my ideal solutions are utopian and could probably never be realized even if you were to convince everyone that they stand to gain by implementing them. Now, on to the solutions!  

Solution A- License directly from record labels 
In this scenario, the labels themselves would sell a license to a song for gaming use. This license would allow for the song to be used across music games across platforms. This would obviously increase the work required as the song would have to be developed for each music game (SingStar, Lips, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, maybe even DDR) while payment would be made only once. The license would also include the standard DRM-free MP3 for playback in players and on computers.   

Solution B- License directly from game developers/publishers 
This solution would not be as comprehensive as solution A, but it would be a marked improvement over the current system. The license would be usable across games from a given developer or publisher. This would insure that a Rock Band track purchase would work with Rock Band on any platform rather than requiring multiple purchases. This solution would also not preclude inclusion of the MP3 track.

These problems stem primarily from my frustration with Rock Band and Rock Band Unplugged, the recent PSP edition of the franchise. Songs are now being re-released for Rock Band Unplugged that I have already purchased but will never get to play on the handheld because I refuse to buy them again. I buy most every song I want on my 360 version therefore leaving nothing for me to buy on the portable and diminishing its value. My only options are to either artificially stop myself from buying some songs on 360 so that I feel justified in buying them on PSP or give up all together and buy them on both. I'm sure Harmonix, Microsoft, Sony, and Big Music would hope I might choose the latter, but I refuse. As it stands, since the infrastructure to sell downloadable content for games is controlled by the owners of the platform, it is unlikely we will see any show of good-will allowing content to cross over to their competitors. They look at non-transferable DLC as leverage to lock you into their platform for the long haul. I look at it more like a low-blow. Sure, they may be able to knock the guy down, but everyone knows it wasn't truly a win.
 
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Is there any way this could work? Any compromise that would work? Does anyone else see this as a problem?
2 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by raddevon

Tonight, I have been playing my fresh copy of SingStar: Queen, and it has brought to mind a couple of problems with the current batch of music games (Rock Band, Guitar Hero) as they exist. More specifically, my problems are with the DLC platforms these games have created.

  1. Song purchases are locked to a specific title on a specific console. SingStar songs will not work with Lips. Rock Band tracks won't work with Guitar Hero. Even Rock Band 360 tracks will not work with Rock Band PS3.
  2. Songs are purchased for in-game use only. It seems counter intuitive that I pay to play a song in a game, but I can't throw it on my MP3 player.
First, I realize that none of these problems will ever be fixed as they are problems for me, the consumer, and the guilty parties would stand only to lose money by fixing them. Second, I realize my ideal solutions are utopian and could probably never be realized even if you were to convince everyone that they stand to gain by implementing them. Now, on to the solutions!  

Solution A- License directly from record labels 
In this scenario, the labels themselves would sell a license to a song for gaming use. This license would allow for the song to be used across music games across platforms. This would obviously increase the work required as the song would have to be developed for each music game (SingStar, Lips, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, maybe even DDR) while payment would be made only once. The license would also include the standard DRM-free MP3 for playback in players and on computers.   

Solution B- License directly from game developers/publishers 
This solution would not be as comprehensive as solution A, but it would be a marked improvement over the current system. The license would be usable across games from a given developer or publisher. This would insure that a Rock Band track purchase would work with Rock Band on any platform rather than requiring multiple purchases. This solution would also not preclude inclusion of the MP3 track.

These problems stem primarily from my frustration with Rock Band and Rock Band Unplugged, the recent PSP edition of the franchise. Songs are now being re-released for Rock Band Unplugged that I have already purchased but will never get to play on the handheld because I refuse to buy them again. I buy most every song I want on my 360 version therefore leaving nothing for me to buy on the portable and diminishing its value. My only options are to either artificially stop myself from buying some songs on 360 so that I feel justified in buying them on PSP or give up all together and buy them on both. I'm sure Harmonix, Microsoft, Sony, and Big Music would hope I might choose the latter, but I refuse. As it stands, since the infrastructure to sell downloadable content for games is controlled by the owners of the platform, it is unlikely we will see any show of good-will allowing content to cross over to their competitors. They look at non-transferable DLC as leverage to lock you into their platform for the long haul. I look at it more like a low-blow. Sure, they may be able to knock the guy down, but everyone knows it wasn't truly a win.
 
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Is there any way this could work? Any compromise that would work? Does anyone else see this as a problem?
Posted by AgentJ

My dream music game platform would have DLC for Elite Beat Agents, and would also have Parappa the Rapper, Rock Band, DDR, and any other good rhythm game.

Posted by raddevon
@AgentJ: I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be any way to make those games retroactively support downloadable addons, but it would undoubtedly be cool.