Can Rock Band/Guitar Hero Be Successful Again? Analysts Weigh In
New guitar games are rumored to be in development for Xbox One and PlayStation 4; here's what analysts are saying.
As rumors about the possible revival of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises continue to swirl, a number of analysts--along with Guitar Hero's co-creator Charles Huang--have now weighed in with their thoughts about the business opportunity of getting the band back together.
GamesIndustry International polled a series of analysts on the subject. They seemed to agree that, while the guitar game business might not fully return to its former glory, there is a market for such games. New games in the Rock Band and Guitar Hero are rumored to launch for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this fall.
"I don't see the Guitar Hero/Rock Band music genre coming back strong," independent analyst Billy Pidgeon said. "Success is possible, but expectations should be low, as while these games will sell again, the sales volume will be much smaller. Value-pricing the hardware and software would help, and it might also help if last generation peripherals were supported for gameplay on current generation systems."
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said guitar games represented a $2 billion market in 2008--during the glory days of Guitar Hero and Rock Band--but today would only amount to around $200 million.
"The games are old enough that they might be ready for a re-fresh, and I would imagine there is room for both to succeed if they don't oversaturate the way they did last time," he said.
Patrick Walker, of industry research firm EEDAR, also chimed in. He said that while it would be difficult for guitar games to match their initial success (after all, the novelty effect of being a rockstar in your living room has likely worn off), he does think that new Guitar Hero and Rock Band games could succeed today.
"There is definitely an opportunity for a revival of the music genre considering the strong sales of the next generation consoles, the relative health of the overall economy compared to when the music genre initially faded, the broad appeal of the genre, and the marketing and IP power of the companies in the space," he said.
Huang said the market for console music games faces a number of headwinds. One such potential problem, he said, is that guitar games tend to attract a casual audience; these players have since gravitated toward mobile gaming, Huang explained. Second, Huang said he foresees a pricing challenge. Some people might be turned off from a pricey guitar bundle when they have so many less expensive gaming options available to them on other platforms.
Of course, neither Harmonix nor Activision have actually announced new Rock Band or Guitar Hero games. As such, we don't know what form new games in the series might take. You can also bet that, if Harmonix and Activision are indeed working on new music games, they are also considering these concerns and others.
For its part, Harmonix has suggested that the plastic guitar peripherals and DLC songs you already own could carry forward to a new game in the series, something fans are probably happy to hear. And Activision has made it clear that it is thinking of new and innovative ways to "reinvent" Guitar Hero.