“Guitar Hero” Creators: “Sure, Let’s Go Head To Head With iTunes”

stillscary.jpgAs probably could have been predicted, the folks behind Guitar Hero are looking for ways to make a bit more cash off their massive success catering to frustrated music fans. If people will buy a game dedicated to Aerosmith, surely they’re willing to buy anything with the Guitar Hero brand slapped on. So why not take on the most powerful music retailer in the country?

No one would deny the new CEO of Activision Blizzard is a pretty powerful guy right now, but he might be slightly mistaken on what the next logical step for his company might be.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Bobby Kotick, chief executive of the new company, said creating a Guitar Hero online music platform was “the natural evolution” of a franchise that has sold close to 20m units and generated $1bn in revenues.

“I don’t think there have been a lot of credible alternatives to iTunes, but Guitar Hero certainly has that potential,” he said, adding players could already download “note tracks” to use while playing the game….

The merger of Activision with Vivendi Games completed on Thursday. The new company would benefit from Vivendi’s ownership of Universal Music and of payment and processing capability in “virtually every country”, said Jean-Bernard Levy, Vivendi chief executive.

“These are all the things that enable you to be a successful competitor [to iTunes],” Mr Kotick added.

While Universal’s relationship with iTunes is certainly rocky, are the only things a company needs to compete with iTunes a familiar brand and worldwide processing capability? I downloaded Dr. Mario to my Wii, but that doesn’t mean I want to buy start buying all my music from Nintendo in the near future.

Activision is at least rumored to still have a shot at a Beatles version of Guitar Hero, and I suppose if digital rights to the Beatles catalog could be negotiated into the deal, they might have some raison d’etre. But it seems like a long tough road to take on iTunes at this point, especially when there’s significant competition to your signature product. (Rock Band–remember that?) Maybe it would be best to stick to one thing at a time.

Guitar Hero aims to take on iTunes
[Financial Times]

  • Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    This can only work if the buyer gets to play the track on the game in addition to listening to it on their iPod. But that opens up a gigantic set of problems.

    1) Storage. An XBox 360/PS3 only has so much space. Full games can be downloaded off their stores, you can purchase movies/TV shows/music (although I don’t know anyone who actually does that), plus save game slots which don’t have a consistant storage size. True, you can by a Hard Drive, but that takes up physical space and also eats up one of the ports on the console.

    2) Neither the 360 nor PS3 are very compatible with the iPod, which if we’re being honest here, is THE MP3 player and what 80% of these console owners will own. That’s not to say they don’t work with it, but it’s not the easiest thing to do in my experience.

    3) To be able to play the tracks, Activision would have to have access to the masters so they can digitize the individual parts. At the very least, they would have to record a similar cover. I imagine this would be licensing hell.

  • Defenestrated

    All I’ve got to say is that the last Guitar Hero was terrible, and so far Harmonix (the Rock Band guys) seems to be more on the right track in terms of having the infrastructure for downloadable content. They’ve also got MTV behind them which… I guess is a good thing?

    They’ve been doing the music-rhythm game thing for faaar longer, and it really seems like put a lot more love into the process than the other guys. Maybe I’m a Harmonix fanboy, but stuff like [versusclucluland.blogspot.com] seems to support my belief in the company.