Columns & Blogs

‘Guitar Hero’ spinning out release after release

If you are a fan of music-based video games, then 2009 could be your year.

On the heels of the recent announcement of the release date for “The Beatles: Rock Band” — available on Sept. 9 — video game Web site Eurogamer reported that Activision could release as many as eight games in the “Guitar Hero” series this year. Other gaming Web sites have also buzzed recently about an upcoming announcement of a slew of “Guitar Hero” games. So far, Activision has already confirmed the release of four games. “Guitar Hero: Metallica” is due for release on March 29. “Guitar Hero: Modern Hits” will be released for the Nintendo DS this year. In June, Activision will release “Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits” — a sampling of songs from previous games allowing full-band gameplay for the first time. Activision has also announced the development of “DJ Hero,” a game with a turntable peripheral. Those are officially announced releases.

But Eurogamer and have reported that a standalone game featuring Van Halen will be released this year in addition to as many as three other games, including “Guitar Hero V.”

With even just the four announced games — although I’d be shocked if at least “Guitar Hero V” wasn’t released — Activision is prepared to flood the market with music games.

In the past, I’ve said that there can’t be too many music games on the market because they expose a new generation to different genres of music they would have otherwise never discovered. However, I never thought any company would release this many. Gamers already have a healthy anticipation for the annual “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” games, but that feeling would subside if a new game came out every other month.

The cost of new peripherals already taxes the consumer, and it will be much more difficult to drop $250 (the cost of the “The Beatles: Rock Band” premium bundle) multiple times a year. It’s too expensive for most gamers, and most don’t want another large peripheral taking up room in their homes.

Perhaps Activision feels like it can steal most of the market by releasing so many games. And if the spinoff games like “Guitar Hero: Metallica” don’t take substantial development time, then the company will make money off the games. But just about every fad dies, and companies could be speeding up the funeral of music games if they aren’t careful.

To contact writer Jonathan Heeter, call 744-4208.