Can Video Games Save the Music Industry?

The music industry is changing, and fast. The old model based around full album consumption simply doesn't work anymore. Single track downloads grew by 53 percent in 2007 to $2.9 billion and digital sales account for 30 percent of sales in the US and 15 percent worldwide, all while CD sales continue to dive like broken Xbox 360s, falling between 10 to 20 percent in 2007. Heck, 2008 had one of the least-watched Grammy ceremonies in television history.

And yet in less than three months, Harmonix's video game Rock Band notched 2.5 million song downloads at around two bucks per -- twice as much as a regular iTunes song retails. Everyone who buys Rock Band downloads at least two songs, on average. With a little over one million copies of the game sold, that's some sexy math.

The relationship between games and music is only getting peachier: coming this June, Activision is planning to release a Guitar Hero game dedicated to Aerosmith and "celebrated artists that the band has either performed with or has been inspired by in some way." Clearly, bands are taking notice of gaming's reach and influence. Here's a look at the past, present and future of the mutually beneficial relationship between music and games.

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Majere5702d ago

...that I have bought music that I had first heard on these games.

Winter47th5702d ago

Ya, the ending for Max Payne 2 made me seek out more songs for Poets of the Fall, though they turned out to suck beyond and recollection and the only good song they've done, was the ending for Max Payne 2.

bozobucketeer5701d ago

@1.1- Haha, I'm right there with you. Except I stopped my collection at The Last Goodbye.

Imallvol75702d ago

I KNOW IT CAN. Game integration is a way to make people pay for music. I have NEVER EVER purchased addition content for a game. Heck, I haven't bought music in 8 years. But I just plopped down 20$ for 10 songs on Rock Band. Being able to play my fav music like Wonderwall and Interstate lovesong!!! I'll pay for that all day long!

NextGEN Gamers5702d ago

I hardly think the "music industry" is in trouble. All that has happened in Europe, North America and other Western music markets over the past half decade is massive rise in independent music labels and distribution methods (i.e. digital downloading). Maybe the mainstream gaming industry can save the dinosaur bands like Metallica and other c#ck-rock easily found in guitar hero and rockband (and the dinosaur corporations who make up the backers of such bands), but all it will do is starve off the inevitable death of the old music model. Democratised studio equipment, online distribution and other aspects to contemporary music are, if anything, going to save gaming in a decade or so.

Marceles5702d ago (Edited 5702d ago )

The music industry needs all the help it can get. I seriously don't really like the direction music's been going.

"buh buh music is changing, it always changes"...yeah but it's changing for the worst, it's just not the same quality that it used to be in my opinion. Also people are downloading a couple of tracks on an album instead of buying the whole thing...there just hasn't been that many albums out for awhile I can say I would buy the whole CD for

*watches FF13 Versus trailer just to hear the music*

gambare5702d ago

Think about it, people not only will get their favorite tunes, but they will interact directly with them in a new and awesome way: being part of the music band instead just listen it. And a important point, the gamers (a HUGE community) will support the musicians and their talent.

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Rock Band Doesn't Need Plastic Instruments to Work

TheGamer Writes "Harmonix has proven plenty of times it can make Rock Band work without instruments."

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Christopher275d ago

I mean, yeah, but was anyone saying otherwise? The fact is people liked the plastic instruments rather than pressing buttons on a controller. They enjoyed the simulated experience.

isarai275d ago

"Work"? No, but to be good? It's absolutely necessary. Not having the accessories is like playing a lightgun shooter with an analog stick sure it works, but one experience is completely unique and fun as hell, and other is torture trying to make do playing in a way it was never meant to be played

LucasRuinedChildhood274d ago (Edited 274d ago )

"trying to make do in a way it was never meant to be played"

I disagree. The accessories were a fun gimmick (and very marketable) but they were added AFTER the genre had been well established with games like Frequency and Amplitude (both also made by Harmonix).

The gameplay formula is different on a controller - there's a focus on switching lanes and contributing to all of the instruments.

Never played Frequency, but Amplitude and Rock Band Blitz were really good. I would love to get more of that kind of game. It's basically a different part of the genre, and stands on its own.

isarai274d ago

The insurmountable difference in popularity between Amplitude and Rock Band proves my point

LucasRuinedChildhood274d ago (Edited 274d ago )

Popularity isn't proof of quality. If it was, then Harmonix wouldn't be making music for Fortnite now. lol. Our disagreement wasn't over which one is more popular. Amplitude and Blitz just aren't "torture" to play.

Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live failed to revive their sub-genre, and Rock Band 4 caused Mad Catz to have to file for bankruptcy. Doesn't mean that instrument-based music games are bad.

It does mean that there's too much overhead and risk for anyone to take a gamble on a big budget game that needs instrument accessories now though.

For the genre to thrive, for now, it needs to do so without the instrument accessories. That's just a fact, unfortunately.

VR games like Beat Sabre (a new sub-genre) and traditional music games make more sense and are more viable right now.

LucasRuinedChildhood274d ago (Edited 274d ago )

*"If quality is always proved by popularity, then Harmonix wouldn't be making music for Fortnite now."

Yi-Long274d ago

I think CHEAP plastic instruments is THE reason why the instrument-genre ‘died’.

People invested in buying the game AND the peripherals, so the guitar, the dj-set, the drum, whatever, and the experience was absolutely fantastic. Great fun, great music, etc.

But then the instruments would break. A button would stop working, or your hits wouldn’t register, and that kind of hardware failure would end in you not being able to play the game as intended, and thus you not getting the scores you deserve.

So, now you had a great game, but a broken instrument, and nobody is gonna buy a new plastic instrument every 3-6 months in order to keep playing the game.

A solution would have been to release better quality instruments (obviously), at a slightly higher price, so you could have kept the new games coming and the genre alive, but sadly, that didn’t happen.

dumahim274d ago (Edited 274d ago )

The only issue I ever had with any of the hardware was the drum pedal on the original rock band set stared to crack in half. The reason I, and other friends I know who played, lost interest is they weren't putting out new tracks that we were interested in anymore. I think earlier this year I looked through the releases for the last 2 years or so, and there was maybe 3 songs I would have bought.

slayernz274d ago

Yeah I had this happen too with my drum controller, I ended up attaching a metal strip to it which fixed it up nicely.

sinspirit274d ago

Can it work? Yes. Does it compare? No.

monkey602274d ago

Bust a Groove, Gitaroo Man and Parrapa the Rappa were such good games. Neither needed any extra peripherals