What Are Guitar Hero Live's Premium Shows All About?

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Guitar Hero Live Stage Demo - E3 2015

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Amidst Activision's plethora of E3 2015 announcements, the publisher released details of Guitar Hero Live's premium show challenges, which is special content exclusive to the game's online-only Guitar Hero TV mode. This content--which Activision say will be refreshed weekly--are optional challenges that will provide unique rewards for players, but they won't be immediately accessible for everyone. You'll either need to complete a series of specific tasks within Guitar Hero TV, or buy your way in using real world money.

Recently, I got the chance to speak to FreeStyle Games design manager Pete O'Donnell, who was able to explain more specifically what gamers can expect from Guitar Hero Live's premium shows. In the following discussion, O'Donnell details how the content itself will be constantly evolving, offering not only new songs but new gameplay experiences as well.

What sort of challenges will players have to overcome to get access, and secondly, have you decided how much real world money it will be in case you want to just skip those challenges?

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The challenges we are creating for the players are linked to how well they can play the songs. We are using mechanics like the well-known Guitar Hero ‘stars’ system to define the challenge. Example: get three stars on Judas Priest's Breaking the Law to qualify. premium shows are a very cool part of GHTV, where players can play awesome new content, and also win amazing prizes. Premium shows will be available to everyone. Better prizes are available to more skilled players, but to get into these you will need to complete more difficult entry challenges.

If players want to play the premium shows right away and skip the game challenges, there will be an option to do this using real world money. We’re currently working on balancing what the cost would be, as we are keen to make sure it feels right for the fans. But, the most important thing for us is that no one HAS to pay to access the premium shows. The real fun is completing the challenges and earning the right to play this unique content for free.

Why should people play premium show songs? What sort of rewards are you planning on giving out?

Premium shows will be great to play and give players a unique way to access some amazing gameplay experiences, which we are hoping could range from amazing live concert footage to exclusive ‘First to Air’ music videos. On top of this, players will get a chance to win a plethora of prizes. For example, there will be some unique Note Highways that are also exclusive to the premium show that they are won from. Bespoke Player cards will also be available, along with Status rewards that help you to level up faster. There will also be Coin Boosts (to speed up your in game currency accumulation), discounts for shop items, and maybe even early access to new music within GHTV, to name a few.

Typically, how long will premium show challenges be available for? And how many times can people try them?

We’re constantly testing and balancing to make sure everything feels right before the game launches in October. For example, each of the premium shows could run for a week and we may have a few of these shows running each week. We plan for the make-up of the premium shows to vary across each show, featuring anything from music videos new to GHTV, exclusive ‘first to air’ videos and even cool live footage. People are able to enter these premium shows as many times as they like, as long as they complete the in-game challenges to gain entry.

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Are the challenges available in different difficulty levels? Or just at pro?

Access to premium shows through challenges are available across all difficulty levels. We are very keen for all our players to experience the amazing premium shows that we are bringing to GHTV and are aware that even if you’re a casual player you will still want to play this great unique content. That said, there are additional prizes, boosts, items and rewards if players take on these premium shows at the higher difficulty levels.

Will you be able to use any of your earned Hero Powers? If so, how do you make sure the playing field is even, so to speak?

Absolutely. Hero Powers are so much fun, and we want to let players use them as much as they want. Premium shows are a balanced challenge for the player, relative to their difficulty level, and if they want to use Hero Powers to make those challenges more attainable for them, then that is fine by us. We want to let people play GHTV however they want to, and Hero Powers are an important part of how they can express their own play style. And of course, Hero Powers can be acquired by anyone of all skill levels.

Will premium show songs always be new additions to the Guitar Hero library? Or will some of your existing songs be set up as premium for limited time challenges?

The options for premium shows are virtually limitless.

The options for premium shows are virtually limitless. That’s why we’re so excited about it. We’re coming up with new ideas every day. Music and content that is really compelling, but most of all fun to play, is the stuff that will ultimately make the cut. And the beauty of GHTV is that as it’s a service and we will not only be able to see what type of content our players are liking the most, but also, through community discussions we will continue to add the best content we can get our hands on, or go out there and create new content long after the game has launched.

Your first bit of premium shows is with Black Veil Brides. How did that partnership come about?

As you can imagine, our team is comprised of a huge variety of music fans. Lots of people with lots of different favorite bands. Black Veil Brides is a great band, so we worked with Activision to get this awesome footage for a premium show. Again, it’s just one example of lots of different premium shows we can put in the game. We can’t wait to show you guys more soon.

How often will premium show songs appear on GH TV? Will there only ever be one at any given time, or is there a chance for multiple?

Premium shows will appear on GHTV as frequently as we can get it. We absolutely hope that we will be able to have more than one available at any time, and as the service develops hopefully we will build up a rich catalogue of premium shows that a player can access in a number of ways. That said, we are constantly coming up with new ways and ideas of showcasing premium shows, and will again work with our fans to deliver this content in a way that works for them. The beauty of this 24 hour GHTV network is that we can deliver content in ways we have never been able to do in the past.

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This sounds somewhat like it'll appeal more to the real hardcore GH players. What's in it for more casual fans?

We want players to access all the content in GHTV, not just this premium shows, so we have designed the game not just with the Hardcore in mind but also casual players as well. Whatever difficulty level you play on, you will be able to access the amazing content, but the higher the difficulty the more rewards you will get for playing the content. Exclusive prize items will be available for the hardcore players so they can equip these unique items to show people how good they really are. They’ll know what you accomplished to earn that prize.

We’ve designed the whole game to be accessible to all types of players right away. No matter if you’re a competitive player, casual player, Party Player or Music lovers, there is a ton for content for all these people straight out of the box and we are going to keep adding more and more content as GHTV develops.

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