We need Rock Band / Guitar Hero song compatibility

In this post, the Penny Arcade guys make the point that beyond instrument capability, what we really need is song compatibility between the two. Beyond the licensing nightmare that would probably represent for both games publishers, this resonated really well for me. Here’s why and why it makes perfectly good business sense below the apparent “yeah, right, you wish” appearances.

Guitar Hero -and Rock Band even more so- are the ultimate party games. I can’t seem to go to a party these days that doesn’t have a Rock Band game running. Perfect fun. Now here’s the reason why I’ll probably pass on the next Guitar Hero: there can be only one. What are the chances that in the middle of the party, somebody will say “I want to play song X, let’s swap disks and go through the process of getting the band back together”? Let me think… yes, zero. So well, I’ll stick to what I have and what constitutes the better choice in my opinion, Rock Band. Guitar Hero World Tour just lost a customer.

Now let’s imagine for just a second that songs work on both games. If Guitar Hero has a good selection of songs, I’ll just buy it for the songs even if I never play the actual game (or just once, for the achievements :) ).

So to recap, in one case many people will only buy one of the games, in the other those same people might buy both (and play only one but who cares). Which one makes the best business sense? I believe the second one but I have no illusion that both editors will prefer to stick to the iTunes “I want it all” mindset…

Archived comments

  • IzzyToxic said on Sunday, October 26, 2008

    I think song compatibility is certainly "doable" but, as always, greed will probably prevent this from happening any time soon, if ever. I thought it interesting that you have chosen to kick "Guitar Hero: WT" to the curb. This will be the first GH title that I will not be purchasing. I am disgusted with the folks at Activision who have decided that their former customers can go to hell by not wanting to make their previous "downloadable song purchases" compatible with their new "World Tour" sequel. As far as I'm concerned, Activision has just greeded itself out of my virtual guitar dimension (beam me up, Scotty). Pretty damn cocky attitude, IMO, for a game whose setlist and graphics are noticeably inferior to the "Rock Band" franchise.
  • kell (aka mofo in rockband) said on Sunday, November 16, 2008

    yes, agreeable, rockband kicks a.. out of the 2. Me and 3 friends have been thrashing the 2 games since they came out and rockband has a way better track listing for a start. The thing that i ponder is why there are none of the other great bands like midnight oil, dire straights, the angels and the like. It would be good and so far haven't found much in the way of downloadaable content. Also, some Pantera would be nice!!! LOL! In saying that, i love playing guitar, am the vocalist in our group and the rockband voc set-up is better. the guitar hero frets for the guitar and drums are better in that, we all agree the circles are seemingly more accurate than the rockband lines you get to strum on because of the size being easier to hit etc. I loved GH3 and aerosmith, not big on GH2, and world tour has lost another fan from us 4. Rockband kicks butt!
  • ningcaptor said on Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    GH: WT is by far the best of the GH series atm. I went out and bought Rock Band, put it in my 360, and when I played the first song, I noticed that the stage and performers behind the note highway were not as fluid moving as GH: WT. the same can also be said for the PS2 version of GH: WT. Song compatibility would be awesome, it would be interesting how they pull it off if they ever decided to do it ... cough NEVER! cough. Guitar Hero: World Tour rocks!!! (someone has to stick up for them!)