Once upon a time music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band ruled the world, but now plastic instruments gather dusts in storage space throughout the western world. What happened? Many people blame Activision and its decision to completely saturate the market with multiple different versions of the same game. According to Harmonix co-founder Alex Rigopulos Activision isn't completely to blame.
In response to a question on a recent Ask Me Anything post on Reddit, Alex discussed the decline of band games like Guitar Hero and his own game, Rock Band.
"I think there's probably some truth to the notion that Activision "over-published" Guitar Hero," he said. "But I wouldn't agree that the decline of the genre was "entirely the fault of Activision". Reality is always more complicated than this. For example, it didn't help that GH and RB were the most expensive video games on the market during a brutal recession. I also don't think that either GH or RB delivered enough (or the right kind of) evolution of the experience in the years that followed the initial releases—something we hope to address at some point in the next outing."
The good (or interesting) news here is that Rigopulos doesn't believe that the band game is dead. He believes a revival is possible and he and Harmonix are looking to possibly revive Rock Band at some point in the future.
"I was sad when Rock Band passed its (first!) peak," he wrote, "but one way or another, it will be back. Also, music games need to evolve just like every aspect of pop culture. The band game boom was followed by a dance game boom, which will be followed by some other manifestation of music games—hopefully some of the new stuff Harmonix is working on! Music is a permanent aspect of the human experience, and so is gameplay."
Harmonix is currently running a Kickstarter in an attempt to revive another game in its back catalogue, Amplitude. With three days left to go, the bid is short $300,000 of its $775,000 goal, so it's looking grim. According to Rigopulos, Amplitude is too hard a sell for publishers considering the previous game wasn't a commercial success. If the Kickstarter fails, most likely Amplitude will not be made.