Monday, March 08, 2010

Rock Band Network launched this week.

Question: What does Earache make of the new 'Rock Band Network' as a method of distributing it's music in an interactive form?

Whilst I'm sure that there would be significant effort involved in 'interactive-y-fying' songs from Earache's extensive catalogue, I would have thought the benefits of exposing your bands (past and present) to such a large audience would make it worthwhile. From:

Answer: Both of the plastic instrument music rhythm-matching games Rock Band and Guitar Hero have taken the music industry by storm in recent years. Guitar hero was first to launch in 2006 but back then the Music Biz in general were so dismissive of the game, that cover versions of popular rock hits had to be used because major labels wouldn't allow the use of genuine songs in an unproven format.The Games industry being culturally alien to and unconnected to the Music industry meant both sides had to learn to accomodate each other's plans and wishes.

The tide turned from 2007 onwards, as both Rock Band and Guitar Hero went from nothing to billion Dollar turnover companies within 18 frantic months. To say they have transformed how kids listen to and interact with their favourite music is an understatement, it has changed the way bands can find an audience, especially with younger teenagers who aren't old enough to go to concerts, but actively play video games.

Earache was lucky enough to be chosen for a Downloadable content 3 song pack (Thrash Pack) during week 18 of the launch of Rock Band, and the sales of tracks by At The Gates, Haunted and Evile numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Evile's 'Thrasher' song is considered among the hardest to play and perfect in the Rock Band catalogue. Rock Band has been crucial for the label in making fans aware of EVILE who are still a newish band, so we are big fans of the games in general.

Guitar Hero launched exclusive standalone games branded by Aerosmith, Metallica and Van Halen, Rock Band launched the Beatles game in summer 2009 to great fanfare, but somehow the sales of all those plastic guitar games have nosedived in recent months. It seems fans are growing tired of the games, which was totally unexpected by all sides.

Within the music industry top secret plans are afoot to launch in the near future new games which utilise the sounds of real guitars and real instruments instead of plastic peripherals. The plan is to develop sophisticated software which can recognise the pitch and frequency and track the rhythm of the guitar notes being played and give points for accuracy in relation to the original audio. This game, if and when launched will instantly kill the plastic guitar manufacturers stone dead. STOP PRESS- First real 6 string guitar game- POWER GIG - launches soon.

Rock Band reacted to the decline in sales with the idea to open up the platform to all. This is a smart move that might ensure its survival into the future. We are very excited about the Rock Band Network which launched on March 4th 2010.

To date the number of tracks available on the Rock Band platform numbered about 800 I think, both on the discs and as downloadable content (DLC). That number was boosted this week because the launch the Rock Band Network instantly added an extra 100 songs, including 3 inches of Blood, Despised Icon and Skeletonwitch. 300 more are to be added soon.

The Rock Band Network store is up now, and allows anyone to upload their own tracks to the platform. The process is not easy and takes on average over 40 hours of programming time per song for an experienced programmer, plus the costs involved are not cheap. Creators for RBN are required to buy special software -Reaper at $400- and Xbox live gold memberships. The upload process is lengthy and is vetted every step of the way by Rock Band offical programmers to see if the song meets their play-standards. I think 18+ themed lyrics are a big turn off, so adult themed lyrics won't be deemed suitable for the age-range the platform serves. I guess Cannibal Corpse or early Carcass might not make it.

Earache has plans for many songs to be uploaded soon, the first is more EVILE songs taken from Infected Nations album, and eventually the whole of that album. Then bands like Carcass, Morbid Angel will be given the RBN treatment. Look out for them.


Joe Spinebuster said...

"The plan is to develop sophisticated software which can recognise the pitch and frequency and track the rhythm of the guitar notes being played and give points for accuracy in relation to the original audio. This game, if and when launched will instantly kill the plastic guitar manufacturers stone dead."

You really think so? I have severe doubts that Joe Public wants to put the time and effort into learning how to use anything more complicated than 5 brightly-coloured plastic buttons when they play these games drunk at a friends' house...


Anonymous said...

I actually agree with joe, guitar hero/rock band is going the same way as those silly dance mats IE dead.

Eric Syre said...

I have to agree with the other comments. learning to play an instrument isn't for the masses. They're happy with the colored buttons and synch efforts they already apply to the games.

I guess that the future of music-releated games also lies in ventures such as "Brutal Legend". I work as a teacher in the high school system and a lot of kids talk to me about Lemmy from Motorhead just because of that game. What about a game where your favorites musicians are the heroes you can personify on a tour-gone-adventure? What about virtual reality where people can become touring musicians? I guess what the game industry must hit hard on is the fact that there,s a rock star sleeping within each and everyone of us and giving us the feel of being a rock star, for a moment, could sell us anything.

Mick said...

There's a slew of games that ape this genre available on iPhone, (and I'm sure other phones), I reckon that's cannibalised a lot of the market share from the original players. Thing like "Tap Tap Revenge" have done a dis-service to the original idea tho, turning it into a "Simon Says" game which doesn't require the audio, )in fact the audio is often a hinderance).
It's like with any great idea - it gets bastardised, cannibalised, corporatised and eventually exorcised.
MARK MY WORDS...the next MASSIVE thing for casual play will be Trumps...something you already touched upon Dig.