Despite shaky performances of Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and DJ Hero 2, Screen Digest analyst Piers Harding-Rolls doesn't think the music genre is at a "dead end".
There are several factors at work, he explained.
Number one, "over exposure": the number of sequels and peripherals released are "undermining the freshness of the experience". Number two, the songs are "not as mainstream or well known" as they once were. Number three: Guitar Hero and Rock Band have become "more niche in many ways" by focusing on a core audience.
Number four: music game peripherals compete for the same money as Move and Kinect. Number five: the mainstream has moved on to dance games - "they are as social as guitar or band-based games, but don't involve such expensive peripherals".
Number six: the "significant" cost of £80-£120 is "outside the impulse range for many gamers". And number seven, "lack of marketing": apparently Guitar Hero's marketing budget was cut at launch, and EA seems to have done next to nothing to promote Rock Band 3.
Eurogamer deemed Rock Band 3 a massive critical success with a gigantosaurus 10/10. And while opening sales might have embarrassed EA, it's worth remembering that not all shops are stocked with the game's new peripherals yet. The life-like guitar and drum kit that you can authentically learn to play using Rock Band 3's tutorials arrive later this month.
Nevertheless, it is more expensive to buy a music game like Rock Band and Guitar Hero than it once was. Guitar Hero III, the game used as a benchmark of the genre's success, required - for the full experience - an investment of £70 for the game plus guitar. To buy the same today for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock you pay £85.
Rock Band 3 asks for £110 should you want the game plus the new wireless keyboard peripheral. DJ Hero 2 wants the same amount for game plus turntable peripheral. And instrument bundles for RB3 and GH:WOR are much more pricey.
Compare that to Dance Central, for instance, and you can buy the game plus Kinect Adventures plus the Kinect camera itself for £170. Alternatively, Wii best-seller Just Dance 2 costs £30.
"I don't believe the music genre is at a dead end," Piers Harding-Rolls closed. "I expect dance titles to sell well this Christmas.
"But, based on latest performance, these incumbent brands face a significant challenge to re-invent themselves in order to attract a wider audience back to these titles."
EA announces its latest financial results tonight. Specific Rock Band 3 sales should be divulged.
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