Well, they may have finally done it. By they, I mean the console companies and game publishers. Yesterday gamers everywhere saw the official announcement of not one, but three
music based titles for the Xbox 360, with all three incorporating in-game singing. So that got me thinking about several questions, such as: How many are too many music games and have we reached the saturation point? What do we do with all those peripherals that aren't compatible with each other? What do we do when we have to make choices involving our favorite artists and songs? At what point does the market get saturated with a certain game type?
How many are too many music games and have we reached the saturation point?
To answer the big question, I guess it just depends on what the market will bear. Case in point, the Xbox 360 went from zero singing games to five in a little over seven months (with more to come). You can now choose between Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol and Lips. Every one of those games requires expensive peripherals and deep pockets for DLC if you want to continue to get new music. Have we reached the saturation point? More than likely with the other games that are also due out later this year. At this point, we are probably going to enter into a period where these IP music franchises will either sink or swim. Some will wash out, some will continue to plod along content to just be there and others will explode into a greater phenomena than they are now. The end result should be a leaner, more streamlined music game genre within the next year or so.
What do we do with all those peripherals that aren't compatible with each other?
This is another lingering issue that will come up soon enough.The entire ensemble of instruments are as big a selling point as the music is now, with both Rock Band and GH WT coming with large, bulky drum kits in addition to guitars and the microphone. The Karaoke Revolution games and Lips will come packaged with their own microphones, and these do not even include all the Guitar Hero controllers from previous versions of the game on the 360 or any other consoles you may own. Where do you store two drum kits, 10 microphones and 12 guitars when many are not compatible with the other games? Clean your room folks, you may need the space.
What do we do when we have to make choices involving our favorite artists and songs?
In the race to get an edge in selling these music games to the masses, there will be one major side effect. It will cause gamers and musicians to potentially have to pick sides in the publishers battle for gamers attention and their almighty dollar. Yesterday we heard of Van Halen and The Eagles being exclusive to Guitar Hero WT and Guns N Roses releasing their single on Rock Band. Don't forget that any American Idol content is locked into Karaoke Revolution while the hottest entertainment draw today (see below) is also locked down in its own future title. So as a consumer, we have to either make a choice on one game and sacrifice some music options, or shell out big bucks and allocate big space in our homes to have some or all of these games and their peripherals. What will you do? The bottom line is that there is a looming decision that gamers everywhere should prepare for now. When making the choice between the likes of Lips, Rock Band, Sing Star, Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero or any other game, we will have to decide whether it will be one, some or all....
Speaking of Lips, while watching the Microsoft press event yesterday and Duffy singing in her tight little pants, I couldn't help but get the feeling that the game will be an utter and epic failure on the Xbox 360. Am I the only one who thought that it looks to be geared primarily toward tweens, based on the music content and its cheesy light up microphone. That isn't exactly the main demographic that owns the Xbox 360. The wireless mic and ability to sing over your own music via iPod or Zune are nice touches and could generate some sales, but Lips certainly won't spur console sales to those that don't already own a 360. Until I can see how it will work with existing music and it shows me something worth spending the big bucks on, I am very skeptical.
I had a friendly discussion with another GN staffer who pointed out that wives and girlfriends would also be targets (Microsoft's casual gamer imitative) of the game. That just made me wonder if families would really want to pay another $60 (est.) for a singing party-game when you can have a Rock Band or Guitar Hero instead? Extremely doubtful. I just see this game getting squeezed out due to the competition, product design and target audience. If the mics weren't so cheesy and a little more mainstream (acceptable to macho guys and woman alike) then possibly this could see great success. However, about the only thing that possibly could ramp up sales with a punch would be to get the hottest entertainment going today, the Disney musical collection with the likes of the Jonas Brothers, Cheetah Girls, Hannah Montana and High School Musical in the game.....Oh wait, Disney Sing It (Singing game #6 on the Xbox 360) is already scheduled for a Holiday 2008 release. Like I said, epic fail....