Are Music Games a Passing Fad?


Guitar Hero 1 started the phenomenon back in 2005 on the PS2. Between that and Rock Band in 2007, gamers saw a steady stream of improvements. The concept was fleshed out, they added drums and mics, tons of game modes and options, way more music and a-la-carte DLC, online functionality, better training features, HD graphics, and polish.

But since Rock Band 1, the improvements have been fairly obscure or niche. Mostly, we’ve seen new music tracks and various branded track packs. As much as I may love The Beatles or Metallica, I’m really not excited about hearing it in a colored-button music game. The game is still the same game I got my fill of two years ago.

Not surprisingly, U.S. revenue for Guitar Hero and Rock Band is down 49% year over year.

So, was the music genre just a fad that’s ended? Is it going to take a while for a new killer-idea to reignite interest in the genre?

Personally, I’m still waiting for a full-production game controllable by a full MIDI keyboard.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by Eddie on July 24th, 2009 [ 44542 Points ]

    I in no way think they are a passing fad, but I can honestly say they are not for me. I don’t have any interest in them.

    With that said on a somewhat related note, I love musical scores in games and have traveled quite a bit to listen to the played in an orchestra. (aka Dear Friends Tour Final Fantasy)

  2. #2 by Emrah on July 24th, 2009 [ 7319 Points ]

    mikes -> mics

  3. #3 by JimmyMagnum on July 24th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    I enjoy playing RB2, good for like a party. If anything, they add more than a karaoke game, and karaoke’s been around forever, though singing-specific games have more options and advanced things like duets, but the new Beatles Rock Band has that cool harmonizing feature. The funny thing is, since Guitar Hero came out, there’s been a surge of teenagers that like classic rock. Probably the same kids that think Led Zeppelin’s best song is Stairway lol. I’ve been listening to classic rock since high school (before that, I just listened to what my friends liked) and will never go back. My bro is currently in high school and most everyone he knows that like classic rock only like it because it was in Guitar Hero. In any case, I just wish RB would hurry and release more classic rock tracks!

  4. #4 by Blackstaffer on July 24th, 2009

    Music games are much older than that. Just look at Harmonix’ own Frequency and Amplitude for the PS2. Back in the day, before anyone ever heard of a PS3, my friends and I were rocking with Frequency (which is the much better game of the two).

    People enjoy music too much for these games to go away. Activision is milking it do death right now, so maybe people are getting sick of all the new releases. But that doesn’t mean they’ll stop playing the old games. I have Rock Band 1, and don’t plan to buy Rock Band 2 anytime soon, for example.

  5. #5 by fleakitten on July 24th, 2009 [ 26489 Points ]

    I can understand why someone can get tired of the genre. Activision’s milking it to death. There’s a Guitar Hero this-and-that being released every 3 months .

  6. #6 by Darrin on July 24th, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    Sure, people will keep playing their older games, and I own many music games outside the big GH/RB blockbusters (Rez, Lumines, Elite Beat Agents, etc), but it’s obvious that interest and innovation in music games has dramatically dropped. The easiest hard numbers to get are sales, but in this case, I think gamer interest has plummeted too.

    As long as the game formula stays nearly identical, new tracks, and DJ Hero style spin-offs don’t interest me at all and I suspect many gamers feel the same way.

    However, there are still features and directions I’d like to see music games explore.

  7. #7 by Darrin on July 24th, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    Wow, look at all these junk auto-generated blog sites linking here… We need to turn that off

  8. #8 by Tosh on July 24th, 2009 [ 1102 Points ]

    I’m actually working on something that will filter those out.

  9. #9 by Smegmazor on July 24th, 2009

    I’d like to see a game with a midi guitar. Something that will help people learn how to play the instrument for real. These games are fun watching my friends play, but there’s nothing like picking up a real guitar. I can’t bring myself to play any of these titles. lol

  10. #10 by Darrin on July 24th, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    The drums are basically real drums, so you really can learn to play that instrument. The guitar, however, is nothing like a real guitar. Drums are just a natural fit for this kind of game, while guitar/piano/horn would be much harder

  11. #11 by JimmyMagnum on July 24th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    lol, Jethro Tull Rock Band, comes with a flute peripheral. an actual keyboard game would be awesome though. Play some Styx and whatnot on that, plus get a lot of Billy Joel as well

  12. #12 by Tosh on July 24th, 2009 [ 1102 Points ]

    I’ve only played rock band twice and it’s not something I see myself buying.

  13. #13 by Sara on July 24th, 2009

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  14. #14 by Glitch on July 25th, 2009

    I’d also like some sort of game that actually taught how to sing/improve singing to go with the Singstar games, much like the singleplayer game that was included on the original Singstar for Playstation 2.

  15. #15 by giz on July 27th, 2009

    guitar hero/rock band suxx and they are too easy..

    i love DJMax Portable (PSP)

    it’s challenging and they improve from verison to version
    (they are korean only, so u have to import, but i heared there is an north american version allrdy out… (a remake from DJmax Portable 1 from 2004)

    8Button Mode ftw xD

  16. #16 by Dominoes on November 24th, 2009

    Great conversation ongoing for sure just enjoyed by reading every single comments made by people. Really you have a nice article to discuss.


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