Did The Record Labels Kill The Golden Goose In Music Video Games?

from the of-course-they-did... dept

For the last decade or so, every year the major record labels seem to bet on some single "magic bullet" to fix all that ails them. They go through phases. There was their own crappy DRM'd and locked-down music stores. There were ringtones. And... there were music video games like Guitar Hero and Rockband. And, of course, as soon as those games actually started helping the recording industry, the industry decided to suck them dry. Edgar Bronfman kicked it off by declaring angrily that those games had to pay much more to license the music -- even though the music in those games tended to lead to much greater sales of albums for those artists.

And now it looks like the labels may have succeeded in bleeding those types of games dry. With Activision announcing that it was dumping Guitar Hero, one of the major reasons given is the high cost of licensing music. Yup, the labels priced things so high that they made it impractical to actually offer any more. Yet another case of the labels overvaluing their own content. Now, it's also true that these games haven't evolved that much, and people haven't seen the point of buying new versions, but part of that lack of evolving is because so much of the budget had to go towards overpaying for music, rather than innovating.

Filed Under: guitar hero, music, video games
Companies: activision


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  1. icon
    Johnny5k (profile), 10 Feb 2011 @ 8:53am

    They should have mimicked iTunes

    I don't understand why, rather than killing off the games completely, they didn't transition them to be more downloadable-content-centric. I'm not going to buy a new version of the game for $80 every year, but that's all they were marketing. They should have concentrated more on marketing the new music that was available to add to the game people already owned. They could sell new guitars with a smaller sample of songs, say 10, to keep the price down by not paying so many song royalties right off the bat - and allow users to download whatever songs they want to build their own library. Activision wouldn't get buried in song licensing fees, and we users could get the songs we wanted to play.

    As for the labels - I already have most of the songs on iTunes, but I'm willing to buy them again so I can play them on Guitar Hero. Why in the world would you over-charge for that? That and the fact that guitar hero songs lead to more purchases outside the game. It just seems like a missed opportunity on both sides.

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