Forbes Writer Stands By Calling Rock Band A 'Shameless Knockoff' Of Guitar Hero

Earlier this week, Forbes writer Peter C. Beller made a tit of himself when he swallowed some Activision PR and reprinted it in his article on Bobby Kotick. Today, surprisingly, he stands by it.

To recap, in the original piece, Beller called Rock Band a "shameless knockoff" of Guitar Hero, seemingly oblivious of the fact Harmonix designed both games, and equally oblivious of the fact Guitar Hero World Tour is a "shameless knockoff" of Harmonix's own Rock Band.

Explaining himself to GameDaily, Beller writes:

My terming Rock Band a "shameless knockoff" of Guitar Hero was based on the fact that it came out after Guitar Hero and sported very obvious similarities with Guitar Hero, including color-coded prompts moving onscreen along a fret board. It even accepted the same Guitar Hero guitar controller, I believe.

If you define knockoff as "a copy or imitation of someone or something popular" the way Merriam-Webster does, then I think Rock Band fits the bill nicely.

I was aware that Harmonix designed both but Redoctane, then Activision, actually owned the game. When Harmonix sold to MTV and produced Rock Band it appears likely they took their know-how from Guitar Hero to create Rock Band along a similar vein. Which is a better game? Not for me to decide.

The point I was trying to make was that just because Bobby Kotick spent $100M for Guitar Hero, or has a long-running skateboarding franchise, doesn't mean he can churn out sequels without the threat of competition. More broadly, creative talent, on which the industry depends, is quick to migrate to where it feels most appreciated and remunerated.

So...not much of an explanation at all, then.

Media Coverage: The Press Responds [GameDaily]


    Guess that makes GH World Tour a shameless knock off of Rock Band.

    Way to validate your claim yet still be wrong. This dude needs to face the fact that he was wrong and apologize for it instead of trying to validate an unsubstantiated remark. I would have at least respected him more for that rather than him trying to resort to semantics.

    Exactly...Rock Band took the Guitar Hero concept (which they created in the first place) and improved it by adding drums and singing. Guitar Hero turns around and designs their own drums and singing. Rock Band also supplies WEEKLY downloadable content which Guitar Hero TRIES to match as well, but fails miserably.

    In the end, Guitar Hero is more a knock off then Rock Band. Period.

    So let me get this straight, Mr. Beller. If a high ranking CEO of Nike got fired, and used his know-how to start his own brand and makes a better shoe, that's a knock-off?

    If someone high up in the Coca-Cola industry gets fired and starts his own company that makes a better tasting soda, that's a knock-off?

    Harmonix developed the first Guitar Hero. They were a part of making it a successful franchise for Brian Kotick to exploit. When MTV purchased them, they EXPANDED on the Guitar Hero formula to include drums, bass and vocals, making a better overall product than just Guitar Hero.

    And to fix a little error in your rebuttal:

    "It even accepted the same Guitar Hero guitar controller, I believe."

    This was due to Microsoft's demand that if the controller is wireless, then it must be a universal controller (i.e. able to be played in any game.) Since they're both wireless, I could technically play Tony Hawk's Pro Skater off a Rock Band guitar controller, so it had nothing to do Harmonix copying Kotick's idea. And if you're talking about design, you're wrong there to. Rock Band's guitar is modeled after a Fender Stratocaster (which they also improved over Guitar Hero's design by adding solo buttons at the bottom of the neck for faster sequences). Guitar Hero used the Gibson SG as the design for Guitar Hero 1 and 2, the Gibson X-Plorer for Guitar Hero 3, and the Guitar Hero Les Paul for Guitar Hero: World Tour. None of these even closely resemble a Fender Stratocaster.


    Great explanation. Obviously the guy who made that report on Forbes does not really play either GH or RB, so we can't expect him to make a clear decision. Personally I have not played GH, but I've heard from friends who came over to play RB2 with me that it's much more fun and better to use. Anyway, who needs what that idiot said, we know RB RAWKS!

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