The End of Music Games As We Know It?

By  |  Monday, December 21, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Reuters dipped into the well of knowledge that is Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter and came up with a conclusion: Music games, such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, aren’t the cash cows they used to be.

Pachter says that music games, which earned $1.4 billion last year, will only earn half that amount in 2009. And that’s not for lack of trying, as this year saw the release of Beatles: Rock Band, Lego Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, Band Hero, Rock Band Unplugged, Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, Guitar Hero: Metallica and finally Guitar Hero: Van Halen, which comes out tomorrow.

But it’s important to note that Pachter’s not predicting the demise of music games. He’s merely saying that the boom is over, a bust is happening, and music games are coming back down from super stardom. His theory is that music game makers gave players too much in each release, so they don’t have to keep buying. I also like a theory posed in October by two marketing researchers from Northeastern University: There are just too many darned music games, and game makers didn’t realize they were riding a bubble.

It’s mildly amusing to me that marketing gurus and analysts are sticking with that conclusion now. Take a look at some reader comments at various gaming Web sites when Activision announced three “Hero” games at once and five different companies announced Lego Rock Band. The backlash was obvious, and that was in the spring, before the industry realized a recession was really happening.

Enthusiast gamers aren’t always great bellwethers — these are the folks who turn their noses up at the Wii — but I’m glad they were right this time. It’s insulting to see publishers churn out handfuls of music games in a single year, expecting players to lap them up. Maybe next year we’ll get a chance to forget the overplayed music genre, so we can some day remember how good it sounded the first time.



8 Comments For This Post

  1. Songstall - Sell your music online Says:

    I think from the outside looking in it was quite an obvious bubble, they simply saturated the market too quickly. Even so, in my opinion these games could never replace the thrill of actually playing a musical instrument and making your own music!

  2. Jared Newman Says:


    I play a musical instrument and make my own music, but music games are still a thrill, for reasons I’ve explained here:

  3. Backlin Says:

    More variety released slowly would have made this boom last a LOT longer. Either that or get rid of these special packs in favor of releasing content packs downloadable in-game (akin to Rock Band) and only upgrade the game when new systems come out. Who seriously stares at their character while playing these types of games anyway.

  4. roy jones jr Says:

    The article is correct about saying gamers weren’t going to lap up the music games. Even before the economy plummeted, they had high prices for the equipment & you had to buy the game as well. In my case I am saving up for DJ Hero. I luckily acquired Guitar 2 & 3 from my friend. (purchased a wireless guitar at walmart) All of those other spinoff guitar music games are a waste IMO.

  5. JustinL508 Says:

    Well perhaps gamers are not that inclined anymore to buy some new and “improved” music games because they are not too realistic. The gaming world is quickly changing to a more realistic playing field and music games are not really catching up.

    But I think there is some hope though. There is a guitar controller I recently read about and it looks pretty good. It’s called the You Rock Guitar and seems really promising.

    Check it out on this video from G4! (around the 2:00 mark)

    Also an article about it!

  6. Jared Newman Says:

    Hey Justin,

    We covered that here, FYI. I did a hands-on at CES:

  7. That Free TV Site Says:

    These music games tick me off anyways…as a musician I believe you should put that time into a real instrument…much more rewarding.

  8. Today's Top Products Says:

    Hey, this is a really great article…. Good work.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

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