Sorry, Everybody: Looks Like “Guitar Hero” And “Rock Band” Won’t Save The Music Industry, Either

Dan Gibson | February 13, 2009 1:30 am

Sure, last year, people were scooping up Guitar Hero and Rock Band like crazy, and those who weren’t helped the cause by writing pieces about how the wild success of those games would swoop in and save the music industry from file-sharing oblivion. But in 2009, things are slowing down for plastic instruments, possibly because in this dismal economy, $200 doesn’t seem like as insignificant an amount of money as it did a year ago.

UBS’ Ben Schachter notes in his wrap-up of January game sales that, if you exclude “Rock Band,” Electronic Arts (ERTS) was January’s gaming champion with sales up 21% y/y. But include Rock Band, and EA slumped 6.2% with dollar sales of Rock Band down 52%.

Same story with the other big music game, Activision (ATVI) property Guitar Hero: Sales down 22% y/y. But Activision is particularly poorly placed because it’s doubling down on music: In a CNBC interview yesterday, CEO Bobby Kotick was talking up hip-hop themed “DJ Hero” as his company’s next big release.

I really have no idea whether DJ Hero will actually be fun to play or not—or whether people will buy it—but wouldn’t it take continuing growth of the music game market to “save” the music biz? Many people own one—or both—of the musical heavy hitters at this point, but the general nature of the gaming industry is one of constantly shifting trends, with something new and shinier always on the horizon.

As plastic guitars slide further back into the closet and gather more dust, associated purchases of Dragonforce MP3s and the like have to decrease as well—which means that if acts are expecting to pay their mortgages from Rock Band downloads in the coming months, it might be time to try to restructure the budget.

Guitar Zero: Gamers Growing Bored Of Music Games [Silicon Alley Insider]