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Music Games Take Popularity Plunge, Consumers Tired

There was a time when music games were among the biggest money-makers out there. Heck, it was only a couple of years ago. But now...

Although designers scaled back the number of music-based video games released in 2010 after the interactive music genre fell by nearly 50% in 2009, they might have to scale back again in 2011. The genre just isn't producing anymore; as an example, Viacom has sold Rock Band developer Harmonix, which is a definite indication that time may have run out on the once lucrative plastic instrument industry. Lower than expected sales of all those pricey music bundles make it plain that consumers are simply tired of the whole fad. The genre reached market saturation quite some time ago and ever since, most of their revenue had to come from downloadable content (i.e., add-on tracks, whole albums, etc.). According to Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews, "sales of music games have dropped by more than a factor of five since 2008." The total haul for the genre in 2008 was over $1.6 billion; that fell to $870 million in 2009 and "short of a Christmas miracle, music games won't break $400 million for all of 2010."

I sort of hate to say this, but good. As great as some of those games were, I have to admit to being sick and tired of the craze. Maybe next year, I won't have the FedEx guy dropping off giant box after giant box of music hardware bundles...at first it's cool, after a while, it's just plain ridiculous.

Tags: guitar hero, rock band, music games, game industry

11/20/2010 10:43:19 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (68 posts)

Clamedeus
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:02:28 AM
Reply

I never was able to get into those games, didn't appeal to me i guess.

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Temjin001
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:26:28 AM

Me either. I can actually play the guitar so it's always felt like a waste of time to play on my own. But together with friends and family it's quite fun.

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Bjorn77
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:29:21 AM

I thought it was more embarrassing then fun standing in the living room with a plastic guitar.

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Danny007
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:32:15 AM

@Bjorn77 LOL, Don't make fun of me.

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JackC8
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 3:51:19 PM

I play guitar too so being seen with a plastic toy (at age 46) never appealed to me.

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Danny007
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:11:12 AM
Reply

Rock Band 3 and DJ Hero 2 were both given good reviews by critics though. Consumers don't want to put out there money for the same experience, just different music, every year. Rock Band 3 tried to solve this by adding the keyboard, but I don't know how that turned out. I myself did buy one music game this year.

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Swavey
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:13:03 AM
Reply

I never much cared for these types of games either. I saw a commercial for DJ Hero 2 today that had a quote from psxextreme on it. Very nice to see guys. :)

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Temjin001
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:27:07 AM
Reply

I suspect the whole motion control craze is right behind it.

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Bjorn77
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:46:13 AM

Indeed, it's a gimmick. Or they have to pull out some really really good games. Current games assortment is sub par.

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Jawknee
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 2:07:09 PM

If that were the case the Wii would have died a long time ago. Obviously it has not.

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Highlander
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 6:29:32 PM

I think it has more to do with the near unstoppable and unprecedented rise in casual gamers transitioning to Call of Duty and on the flip side of that move, to Facebook games.

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Alienange
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:49:30 AM
Reply

It's because the developers and publishers became desperate for the next big thing. When it was just a guitar and great tunes everyone loved it.

What we're being offered now is bundles of plastic instruments that cost nearly as much, if not more, than the console we bought to play them on. The cost isn't equaling the fun.

The only reason I've bought any music games in the past two years is because they drop in price at an alarming speed.

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PAKINIPS
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 12:04:20 PM
Reply

A good idea would have been to not bring one out every year, work on it a bit more, stop with the dlc

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NoOneSpecial
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 12:08:55 PM
Reply

meh, it's not surprising. Musical games were more of a fad than anything, and yu can't really improve on it(except for new music or improved vusuals, i guess) you really just need one base and than keep on charging for new songs, but besides that, you can't stand to gain much.

Last edited by NoOneSpecial on 11/20/2010 12:09:42 PM

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Snaaaake
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 12:20:37 PM
Reply

It's basically the same game with different music.
Of course one will eventually get tired of it if he is not a huge fan.

FPS is a different case though.

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ThePoetRazel
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 12:49:08 PM
Reply

Here's an idea, stop trying to make us buy the same game again and again every year. If games like Killzone came out every year with little difference between installments we'd get tired of it. It's not rocket science.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:13:31 PM

*cough* CoD *cough*

Last edited by Lawless SXE on 11/20/2010 4:13:51 PM

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ThePoetRazel
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 10:05:10 AM

COD will go the same way of course. FPS games give a better online experience especially when it comes to playing with friends, this gives it some more longevity but not immortality by any means.

Last edited by ThePoetRazel on 11/21/2010 10:05:43 AM

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bigrailer19
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:01:01 PM
Reply

Yeah I'm kind of tired of em too... I bought rock band 3 and dont get wrong it's an awesome fame and the piano was another good installment. But the underlying story is I've played it 2-3 times maybe. It was a waist of money in that regards. But after skipping rock band 2 I thought I'd give it another go... Honestly rock band 3 may be the first ps3 game that I've bought that I get rid of at some point... It just lost it's appeal and fun factor.

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booze925
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:04:35 PM
Reply

i still play guitar hero 3 and rock band 1 to this day.
i never saw the need to upgrade.

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Fane1024
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:23:25 PM

So you're the problem. ;)

RB3>RB2>RB1

Even disregarding the extremely high value of the number of songs available on each disc for $60 (or less), it is a mistake not to upgrade if you play RB even sporadically.

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Naga
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:04:50 PM
Reply

I play Jamlegend on the internet its quite fun and I would say pressing 1,2,3,4,5 on the keyboard is enjoyable.

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Jawknee
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:06:21 PM
Reply

I am proud to say i have never owned one of these abominations. Learn to play a real guitar.

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ctd669
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:49:01 PM

I feel the exact same way. I'm very proud to say I've never owned one either. I do own three REAL guitars tho and oh the shame I'd have felt if one of my buddies walked in on me w/ a plastic guitar while all my other REAL guitars were in their cases.
I don't know if it's me but there's somthing exhilarating about plugging in to a Marshall half stack and cranking the knob to 10 and figuring out that riff from that song u been trying to learn... as opposed to fake strumming on a toy and pressing some buttons.
It's just way more satisfying.

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Jawknee
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 2:05:29 PM

It's not just you. Music and playing my guitars and bass are the only thing i enjoy more than gaming. I think if I had to choose between my hearing and eyesight, i would chose hearing. Can't live without music. I love my Gibson SG and my Ernieball Musicman Sting Ray. Nothing better than plugging my Ernieball into my Ampeg 8X10 and Ampeg SVT Classic head. Its like sex in my ears. LOL!

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ctd669
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 2:27:47 PM

I'm right there with ya bud!! Nearly half of the space used on my PS3's 80gb HDD is music.
And I only have about 7gb of free space left.
(Damn, I need to upgrade my HDD!)
Needless to say my PS3 spends about as much time gaming as it does cranking tunes!
Oh and BTW I love my 93 Gibson Explorer w/ EMG's & my 87 American Standard Fender Strat also w/ SA EMG's for that David Gilmour vibe!
My Explorer is my baby tho. ;D

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 9:00:22 PM

@ Jawknee

I am sick and tired of people telling us GH and RB gamers to "learn to play a real guitar". Truly sick of it.

If we wanted to spend hundreds of hours learning chords, tabs and whatnot for 1 or 2 songs over the course of a few months, I would. But I don't want to do that!!!

I enjoy picking up a plastic guitar and just having some fun playing some songs I like, cos I'm a gamer, not a musician.

Rock Band 3 is an excellent party game and one that my friends always want to play whenever they are over. You don't have to know how to play guitar or real keyboard, you just match the colour notes and enjoy the fun.

So please. No more comments about learning to play a real instrument. Playing Guitar Hero / Rock Band and playing a real guitar are two completely different things, and while some gamers realise this (not all unfortunately), I think its damn time musicians realised this too!!!

It's a game, you jump in and have fun, there's no steep learning curve, unless you want to learn the pro instruments and transition from gamer to musician. Some people like me like these music games, and there is no respect from anyone here.

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McClane
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 9:21:04 PM

@Dancemachine55:

My thoughts exactly, +1 for you

@ Jawknee:

Have you ever heard the phrase " To each its own" ??

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leatherface
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:05:15 PM

my marshall goes to eleven

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Jawknee
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 1:42:29 PM

That's fine you go enjoy your plastic toys. I guess the untalented people should have a chance to play "guitar" too.

Last edited by Jawknee on 11/21/2010 1:43:35 PM

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McClane
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 8:43:42 PM

"I guess the untalented people should have a chance to play "guitar" too"

So according to your logic, gamers that enjoy music games are "untalented"??

*sigh* Hard to discuss something with such a short-minded person....

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X_shadowkilla_X
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:09:41 PM
Reply

its because there is only so much variety that you can do in a music based game...and the difference are very little.

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Oxvial
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 1:35:46 PM
Reply

Great , now fps games please.

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booze925
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:25:38 PM

keep dreamin' buddy

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Oxvial
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:36:15 PM

better than live this fps flood nightmare.

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Jawknee
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 5:20:49 PM

Booze, it will happen. Its not a matter of if but when.

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Highlander
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 6:35:56 PM

Ain't gonna happen. Where do you think all the casual and music (also pretty casual) gamers are 'graduating' to? FPS games are extremely accessible because they are aim, fire complexity games. I know that there is more to it than that online, but if you play the SP campaign on easy, it's generally very easy, which is perfect for that kind of gamer making the move towards more hardcore games. Of course they will be turned off by the online component where they get their a$$ handed to them along with a stream of expletives, but they have to learn somewhere.

But as much as I would love the FPS to decline to a more 'normal' level of popularity, I don't see it happening any time soon. People enjoy firing fake guns at fake enemies too much.

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Qubex
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:38:09 PM

Lol Booze!

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 2:17:46 PM
Reply

That's what happens when you milk something to death.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 2:53:39 PM

COD should be next

People gotta get bored of war games at some point.

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eLLeJuss
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 3:23:55 PM
Reply

Of course. They release like 5 of the same thing in 1 year. What would they expect?

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DazeOfWar
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 3:54:42 PM
Reply

Ya I pretty much tired out after Rock Band 2. Hell I'm even having a problem giving away the instruments.

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rogers71
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 6:23:21 PM

Daze,
I would definitely take the RB2 instruments off your hands. PS3 id is Rogers71. Add me and we can talk.

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DazeOfWar
Monday, November 22, 2010 @ 3:34:12 PM

Sorry I should have mentioned they were for the 360 version.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:20:33 PM
Reply

Well this is hardly surprising. They've oversaturated the market with these games, then supported them so heavily with DLC that it really does make buying the newest one superfluous, unless you are really into the genre. I suppose it is the same as any fad... People eventually just become bored with it. I just wish that would hurry up and happen to FPS, Motion Controls and MS in gaming...
Peace.

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Fane1024
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:35:05 PM
Reply

Given that these sales statistics are in dollars rather than units and that they do not include DLC (which has also decreased, but not as drastically), PART of the decline in sales is simply because in 2008 more people were buying instrument packs and now those people are only buying the game disc.

I, for instance, bought three full sets of instruments (2 X RB1 @ $99 each and RB2 @ $179) in 2008. In 2009, I bought TB:RB for $60. In 2010, I bought LEGO:RB for $10 and RB3 for $60. My enthusiasm for these games has not diminished at all, nor has my purchasing of DLC, but my retail spending has.

The oversaturation in 2009 certainly didn't help and it is clear that the "craze" has peaked, but the decline of music games is being overstated.

All you haters want to hate, but music games are still in better shape than JRPGs. ;)

Last edited by Fane1024 on 11/20/2010 4:40:04 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:45:02 PM

That isn't saying much. EVERY genre "is in better shape" than JRPGs.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 6:28:10 PM

Not funny Fane...

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Highlander
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 6:37:24 PM

Indeed Lawless, indeed. Ben has a point too. However there is still life in the old JRPG yet, it's just not in the foreground any more, and a lot of it happens on the PSP. Games like Atelier Rorona show that it's not dead, but has moved to a more niche market status.

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 9:13:18 PM

True bout people no longer buying the plastic instruments, cos most already have them. It's just the games people are grabbing now.

Like me, I got the GH World Tour and Rock Band 1 instrument kits. Last thing I got was the RB3 keyboard, and its heaps of fun to play the keyboard parts to Du Hast, Power of Love by Huey Lewis and Imagine by John Lennon.

Since the instruments have lasted and are still going strong, I see no need for more. And I see no need for Guitar Hero now that Rock Band 3 has covered everything, from pro instruments, to backwards support of DLC and previous disc entries.

Also Fane, you got guts saying that about JRPG's on a site that loves its JRPGs. Tread carefully my friend.

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Clamedeus
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 3:04:17 AM

To tell you the truth i would probably play a JRPG or any kind of game than a Music game, i seem to get more enjoyment out of it.

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Fane1024
Monday, November 22, 2010 @ 4:13:30 PM

@ Dancemachine

Indeed...I expected a bunch of thumbs down. I guess people can actually take a joke here.

I didn't say I was happy about the demise of the JRPG. I'm just a little tired of the haterade.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 11/22/2010 4:14:17 PM

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Nerull
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 4:38:01 PM
Reply

I still intend to pick up rock band 3 once it drops a bit, which will be the only music game I've bought other than #2, and that being used.

Actual guitar seems out of my reach since all the songs I'd actually love to play take years and years and years of practice. Drums I could do for real if I didn't live in a tiny apt where the adjacent poor people don't take kindly to my mad beats in the middle of the night.
I'm a nightshifter and definitely nocturnal.

I think it would have largely helped their holiday sales if they actually released the main selling point, the pro guitar, before the holidays.
Even though the pro guitar is expensive to the point where even I'd be tempted to just get an actual guitar instead, its late release is a big wtf move.

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ctd669
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 5:16:53 PM

The thing about Trying to pick up guitar as a hobby is it can get to be very expensive. U can get an acoustic and learn which would probably be the cheapest way to learn. And it all depends on the person learning how to play.
I've seen people pick it up very quick and been impressed on how fast they picked it up.
Other people just can't... AT ALL! (Tone deaf!)
As for the "pro" guitar. That's an actual Fender Stratocaster with MIDI on the neck and 2 single coils on the mid and bridge. Even tho it's a Squier, (which basically means made in korea...that's it) if you put it in perspective, that's the best deal that you'll find on anything that's a Fender full size electric. And I guess you can use it in some game or somthing as well... but it's funny to me how everybody says it's too expensive. It really isn't at all for what you get!
It makes me laugh when I see people say that.
In actuality that's the cheapest Fender Electric you'll find anywhere. They usually only go UP in price from there!

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 9:16:45 PM

Did you see Xplay's spoof called Harmonica Hero? Funny stuff.

Now all that's missing is Orchestra Hero, which comes with 28 instruments in the biggest box set ever seen!!!!

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LupeOneLeo
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 9:10:02 PM
Reply

It's not JUST that people are tired of them. It's that we've already seen everything as far as this goes. As the article says, these games were HUGE a couple years ago. Now everyone has a set already, so they don't need new ones, and the games themselves just don't have anything to them to get us THAT excited about these games again, and the gimmicks they've tried are too specific. Beatles, for instance. Not everyone is a Beatles fan, as legendary a group as they are. Now, if Move and Kinect and even Wii had some kind of music games to them that used motion control instead of just plastic instruments, I think it'd be something fresh and new and maybe get much of the audience back into the genre, but they'd have to work their butts off to find something new and exciting enough about it to draw the kind of audience they had in 2008. The concept is epic, but the novelty's gone, and we're ready for the next big thing.

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Qubex
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:42:25 PM

LupeOneLeo... you need to wait and see what is forthcoming... Trombone Hero incoming...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Dancemachine55
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 9:20:15 PM
Reply

I believe there is still a large audience for music games out there, it's just that Activision killed the hype and love of the genre by oversaturating the market.

Not only that, most people already have the guitar controller, which is still the most played instrument controller for these games. Most people just buy the disc games or DLC as opposed to full bundles.

It may be sliding, but I reckon it won't die. Considering Rock Band is still considered the best party game over any Wii, Move or Kinect title out right now clearly shows that the genre is still alive and well, just not dominating in retail like it once did.

Last edited by Dancemachine55 on 11/20/2010 9:20:43 PM

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Qubex
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:44:03 PM

We'll see, but I am happy to throw in a real Floyd, Zepplin or Doors album into my PS3 and just sit back and listen...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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BikerSaint
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 10:10:28 PM
Reply

I've never play any of them & have exactly "0" of those games & plasticware in my collection.

Hey Ben, just re-route that Fed-Ex truck over to me so I can add those freebie review bundles into my collections, without having to pay out the wazoo for something I'll never play.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 11/20/2010 10:11:07 PM

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Qubex
Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 11:40:39 PM
Reply

I am glad the fad is ending... the games may have been "good" to some extent, but geez all that plastic is not good for the environment... guess where they will all end up in a few years time... in the dumpster... :)

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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___________
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 1:02:15 AM
Reply

its because theres too many of them, and because the music on the games SUCK!
i thought they were called rock band and guitar hero not pop band and pop hero.....
wish they would just do a HD remake of the first game, now that had a track list!
bark at the moon, cowboys from hell, iron man, sharp dressed man.
only music game ive played that did not have one song i dont like!

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rogers71
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 10:19:41 AM

I guess the devs of these current games forgot to check with you before creating their setlist. Shame on them.

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___________
Monday, November 22, 2010 @ 6:22:35 AM

its got nothing to do with me, the point is this is ROCK band and GUITAR hero so why are there pop songs in it?
its like creating DJ hero 3 with nothing but ACDC tracks in it.
WTF does ACDC have to do with DJs, just like all that pop crap what does it have to do with guitar hero and rock band?
if your going to slap a title onto something it has to be appropriate, no point calling a blender a car.

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556pineapple
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 1:11:01 AM
Reply

I blame Activision for over-saturating the market, though I would have been fine if Harmonix didn't make Green Day Rock Band. I still enjoy playing, and I just bought Rock Band 3 a couple weeks ago, with full intention of upgrading to pro down the road. Though perhaps it's different for me than most gamers. As far as hobbies go, music has always come before gaming, and Rock Band does a perfect job of combining the two for me. However, I can understand why it doesn't hold appeal for others as it does for me.

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thj_1980
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 3:02:21 PM
Reply

Music games such as rockband are becoming less popular these days. I haven't touched my drumset in perhaps a year from now. It just it takes to much space and time to set-up and i don't have any room to shove it in a corner so yeah space is a key issue. Recently we have been getting games like cod or other games that drive our attention away from the music games we once knew. Hopefully this industry dosen't fall to bad because there are new rockband sons coming every wekk on psn. The only music game that is good is rockband, and gh3, metallica. Guitar hero lost it after guitar hero 3, however metaillica was good and 5 was decent.

Last edited by thj_1980 on 11/21/2010 3:03:41 PM

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Fabi
Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 6:06:03 PM
Reply

Good, I got sick of hearing about them.

I hated them all. I would rather jam out in real life.

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Danny007
Monday, November 22, 2010 @ 4:36:48 PM
Reply

What they should do, if there is a Rock Band 4, they should have some sort extra add on where you can somehow "make your own music" by singing your own song and making your own beats. They just have to some how make it work and make it fun. Just a thought of mine.

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