The Music Game Is Dead (Long Live The Music Game?)

The Music Game Is Dead (Long Live The Music Game?)

There once was a time when music games were the biggest – and in some cases best – thing to happen to the video game industry. Oh, how those times have changed.

Gamasutra’s chart fiend Matt Matthews has got hold of the revenue generated by the sale of music games over the past three years, and the decline in the genre is staggering.

In 2008, music games – think series like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, SingStar & DJ Hero – made over $US1.6 billion. In 2009, that dropped by almost half, down to $US870 million, and in 2010, well…things are looking even worse.

From January through to October, music games have yet to break the $US250 million mark. Which considering this is a year which has seen Rock Band 3, a new Guitar Hero game and a new DJ Hero title is dismal reading.

Sure, some of that comes from the fact people invested in the more expensive instrument bundles early on, then only bought subsequent standalone games. But only some.

These numbers don’t lie. The music genre as we know it is dead. People have clearly lost interest. All those plastic instruments that took up a bunch of space, cost a ton of money and had you playing the same “hit the buttons in time with the coloured dot” game over and over for 3-4 years have clearly had their time in the sun.

The future of the genre, clearly, lies in games that are slimmer. That are just games, that you buy, and can play, without the need for proprietary controllers. The runaway success of Just Dance on the Wii is proof of this, as is the early success of Dance Central on Kinect.

Which fans of dancing and singing covered, but you have to wonder what Kinect can possibly do for lovers of music that’s a little heavier. Air Guitar Hero, perhaps? Stranger things have happened.

Analysis: U.S. Music Game Sales Have Dropped Fivefold Since 2008 [Gamasutra][image]


    • Oh sure, it’s so easy to blame Bobby Kotick for everything!

      Actually, it IS easy to blame Bobby Kotick for everything. So let’s do that. It’s all his fault anyway- Guitar Hero, the genre launching point, has been milked until its udders have completely turned black and dropped off.

    • It’s somewhat depressing that even though Harmonix, the original creators of Guitar Hero attempted to try something a bit classier with The Beatles Rock Band, and even they’re suffering now because of its similarity to GH and Activision’s MO of ‘bombard them senseless with addon packs’

  • I suspect part of the early success of Dance Central on Kinect is that it’s the only thing even vaguely resembling a worthwhile game on Kinect so far.

    If developers can figure out a way to harness the impressive Kinect tech for actual gaming (as opposed to cool general UI stuff) then future installments of Dance Central would likely struggle in the face of stiffer competition on Kinect.

  • Rock Band 3 is a great game that is the closest thing to playing real music on a console. And the reviews are great. It saddens me that Harmonix seems to be relying on word-of-mouth advertising. The stupidity!

  • Yeah, Rock Band 3 is a fantastic game, Harmonix have really outdone themselves with it. They’re actually innovating and pushing the genre forwards, compared to Guitar Hero which just cranks out the same crap every year with big new features like “We have a stage made by Tool!” or “We have Gene Simmons’ voice!”

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