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They Just Don’t Get It (Let Me Play My Music!)

IGN has put up an interview with Paul Gadbois, producer at Beedox, the company responsible for developing Guitar Hero Greatest Hits in conjunction with Activision. This “new” game is not really a “new” game; think of it as a compilation disc of songs from previous games. That sounds like a fantastic idea in theory, especially since they note that songs that were previously featured as cover versions will now be updated to their master tracks, and all of the songs will be playable as the full band (vocals, guitar, bass, drums). There were a lot of songs in the first two games that I would love to see come back in playable form in the updated game engine, so you can imagine my disappointment as I kept reading.

IGN: Will downloadable tracks purchased for Guitar Hero World Tour work with this disc? What about GHTunes songs?

Paul Gadbois: Guitar Hero Greatest Hits (working title on PS3/PS2) will support the entire library of downloadable user-created songs from GHTunes and players can once again create and publish their own songs from the Music Studio. Currently, downloadable songs for Guitar Hero World Tour will work with that title only.

And it only continues to get worse:

IGN: Will there be any way to purchase this disc and import the songs into Guitar Hero World Tour (or vice versa) to have all of the tracks accessible at once?

Paul Gadbois: The 48 songs in this game will all be instantly playable and are designed to be playable off the disc only.

Excuse me? It is clearly using the exact same game engine and infrastructure from World Tour if it will be fully interoperable with the “GHTunes” library and service, so why on Earth will downloadable content for that exact same game engine not be accessible in this new game…?! I gave the jump from II to III a free pass when the previous game’s DLC would not work with the newer game, since a new company was picking up the reigns and developing from scratch. I was slightly miffed that World Tour would not import (even as guitar-only) the DLC from III, but I got on with my life.

This, however, is just another concrete showcase of how Activision views you as a consumer, and how lost of a cause they are for progress.

Here comes the inevitable Rock Band comparison you were waiting for (ignoring the Wii version of the first game, and all PS2 versions due to technical limitations):

  1. DLC purchased during the time of the first Rock Band is fully usable in Rock Band 2 the same way as it was in the first game.
  2. All DLC, regardless of when it is purchased, works in both Rock Band and Rock Band 2.
  3. The (near) entirety of the first Rock Band can be exported to your console’s hard drive for play in Rock Band 2, without the need to switch discs.
  4. While AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack is a retail, disc-only game with its own gameplay, the music can be installed to your console’s hard drive and then used within the traditional Rock Band games.
  5. The upcoming Beatles game has just been given the name The Beatles: Rock Band, hinting at some type of interoperability with Rock Band games, and essentially confirms interoperability with instruments.

Sure, World Tour finally opened up interoperability with Rock Band instruments (and would even adapt the drum note-path from 6 to 5 notes when used with the Rock Band set), but that’s about the extent of the consideration I can speak to. There’s a reason why World Tour rarely gets popped into my 360. There are several reasons, actually, and I think you can infer anything I have not already touched up.

This lack of DLC interoperability is the modern example of what many of us were doing several years ago with Dance Dance Revolution simulators like DWI and Stepmania. Despite owning every single American PS1 & PS2 DDR game and a plethora of the Japanese releases, I found myself hooking up the pads to the computer to illegally play copies of songs that I otherwise would have to switch back and forth between two consoles and dozens of games to play. Want to do “Boom Boom Dollar” followed by “Cowboy“? Sorry! It would not surprise me one bit if some of the Harmonix folks went through this same process, because once you have all of your music at your fingertips (also see: having an iPod versus a portable CD player), you never want to go back, and it’s unfathomable to even consider going back to such an antiquated method.

At the end of the day, however, it all comes back to revenue for the game developers. Rock Band 2 did not quite hit sales expectations, while the Guitar Hero brand continues to perform incredibly well (especially on the Wii). Does this mean all that nonsense about interoperability, consumer consideration, games as a platform, etc. means absolutely nothing? Are they just the incoherent internet whines of a select few?

2 Comments

  1. Why are they doing this? When I first saw this I was like shit, I’ll grab that for PS2. I haven’t taken the plunge on any of the new generations of consoles (except for the DS Light), so I’m delighted at the fact that I’ll have more songs that I can hook-up with.
    But I have to say…You guys on your DLC consoles are just being cheated. What is Activison thinking? It was one thing to undo what they were best at, creating insane guitar songs, but then they did their whole World Tour game and you could tell they were just out of their comfort zone, I guess.
    I’m fearful for this franchise’s future.

  2. This is almost as crazy as when they said they were thinking about making the user created songs a subscription service.

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