It’ll be almost exactly five years to the day since we saw a Rock Band game before the release of Harmonix’s next offering in the music game genre. In fact it’ll be five years since we’ve seen anything in the music game genre, as the two titans Rock Band and Guitar Hero haven’t given us any new games whatsoever since 2010, and both are making a comeback this October with Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live respectively. Is now the time for a comeback?
The reason why we’ve not seen a music game in so long is a direct result of the developers’ own doing. Over an initial period of five years between 2005 and 2010 we saw a ridiculous number of Rock Band and particularly Guitar Hero games – eight main titles (six Guitar Hero, two DJ Hero and Band Hero), five expansions and several more spinoffs for the PC and Nintendo DS such as Guitar Hero: On Tour. Add to that the three main Rock Band titles and their spinoffs including Beatles, Green Day and even Lego Rock Band and what we had was a hugely oversaturated market, contributing to the swift downfall of the genre starting in 2009.
I think a comeback was inevitable, but the five year hiatus has surprised me. It was necessary of course and both developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band made the right choice, and now the announcement of two new games has got people excited for the genre again. My main gripe with Rock Band in particular is with the new instrument set; they have been redesigned and streamlined for more precise playing (or at least as precise as one can be strumming or hitting plastic instruments) and while old instruments will still work with the game buying a new set is rather costly. As of writing the ‘Band In A Box’ set costs $250 or a much pricier £250 ($390) here in the UK, and even then it only provides enough instruments for three players for what is presumably a four player game like before. Not only that but as far as I know you currently cannot buy the game on its own either, you have to at least buy the version bundled with a guitar. I really hope the cost is lowered dramatically before release as either way that is far too expensive.
From what I’ve seen in various video and forum comments regarding the games it seems mostly existing fans are interested in the upcoming new versions, as a lot of questions are asked about the usage of existing instruments and songs they’ve previously downloaded. I would personally like to buy a new set as my original wired ‘Band In A Box’ is knackered and on Xbox 360 (I have a PS4 this gen) but certainly not at £250 for the privilege. I’m thrilled the games are making a comeback and one day look forward to rocking out once more, but for that price I’m happy to wait another few years. Once the cost of the kit is halved I’ll take the plunge, and I’m confident a lot of fans feel the same way.