On My Soapbox: Music Games and Band Exclusivity

Filed under: , by: Grundy the Man

While I was typing my review for Guitar Hero Aerosmith I hit on a disturbing trend in music games, band exclusivity.

As a fan of Aerosmith's music, I was extremely excited to hear about this exclusive title. Now I would be able to find all of their best tunes in one place. But after thinking about this for a second, I began to see this as more of a step back for music games. People seem to take for granted the fact that artists actually want to be a part of games. In the original Guitar Hero and most of Guitar Hero 2, the tracks were cover bands. Seeing the recent success of these games, artists began throwing themselves at publishers, trying to get a small piece of the pie.

That is when bands started striking up exclusive deals with Activison and Harmonix, with the promise of having their own exclusive game or downloadable content. Now it can be assumed that you will no longer be able to find any Aerosmith music in the competing Rock Band franchise. That is disappointing, because the Rock Band experience is far different from that of Guitar Hero.

Unfortunately with the expensive nature of these games, very few gamers have the luxury to have both titles. Having an exclusive band is a slippery slope that could force gamers to choose sides in the music game war. Knowing that your favorite band may not be available on your game of choice would be enough to frustrate even the most steadfast fans.

I will close with this. Competition only will stimulate innovation if your product is worth having. Walling off your product to a select few will never expand your fan base, it will alienate then. Activision and Harmonix need, end this franchise war, before the war kills the genre.