Music gaming is a huge growth area for the games industry. Started by Harmonix with Guitar Hero quickly selling 1.5 million copies. Then came the sequels, Guitar Hero II and III, and a string of successful stand-alone titles such as Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.
Then came Rock Band (also from Harmonix) via Electronic Arts. Launched late last year in America, the game received widespread acclaim and sold four million copies, with global revenues of $600 million – and since its release, players have downloaded more than 28 million songs via the game. It has a guitar, a bass, a drum kit and mic, and you can play in single- or multi-player mode, or battle it out online against rock fans worldwide. Following its chart-topping success, Rock Band 2 was released this fall.
With CD sales in free fall and authorized digital downloads not expected to make up the shortfall, the combination of video gaming and music looks promising for the future for the music business. “Industry insiders are learning that video games are the radio and distribution channel for the music industry of the 21st century – and they’re learning quickly,” says Tommy Tallarico, a game composer who has scored more than 275 video games – a world record.
In 2007, Guitar Hero and Rock Band made more than all digital music sales from services such as iTunes. The Aerosmith single “Same Old Song and Dance” was featured in Guitar Hero III. And according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks digital and retail music, sales of the song jumped by 136 per cent the week after the game was released in late 2007, and by 400 per cent a week after Christmas that year. Even the most successful groups are getting in on the act. Rock Band has secured the rights to release a stand-alone video game featuring The Beatles, scheduled for release next year.