If you attended a party between 2005 and 2010, there’s a good chance that at some point during the night you and your friends ended up in front of a TV, jamming on plastic instruments to classic rock songs. During those years, if you went stores like Best Buy and GameStop, you may remember having to sidestep giant piles of Rock Band and Guitar Hero sets that dotted the aisles. The instruments may even have cluttered up your closet. This was the age of the music game.
But something changed around 2009. Maybe it was the fact that so many music games came out so quickly or the torrents of downloadable songs hitting the stores each week. In any case, music games, which had shot like a rocket into stratospheric popularity just a few years prior, seemed to lose their appeal nearly all at once.
It’s been five years since the last Guitar Hero or Rock Band game came out, five years since the spirit of rock stopped thumping through our video game consoles. But if some early rumblings are any indication, it looks like the music game genre could be gearing up for a comeback.
For one thing, Rock Band, a game that hasn’t received a single new song in nearly two years, just added three new downloadable songs to its online store. The songs in question are “R U Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys, “Shepherd of Fire” by Avenged Sevenfold, and “Something From Nothing” by Foo Fighters.
The blog post announcing the surprise DLC makes reference to the 21-month lapse, but doesn’t explain why developer Harmonix decided to add new songs now or indicate what these new songs might mean for the future of the Rock Band franchise. But it’s no stretch to wonder if the developer has a renewed interest in the series and may begin supporting it again.
What we’d really need is a new Rock Band game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Harmonix hasn’t announced anything to this effect yet, but a new game could be in the works. Why else bring out new DLC for consoles many people have stopped playing altogether?
Other recent signs indicate that both fans and the video game industry are ready for more music games. Aside from the new Rock Band DLC, Harmonix is also working on a reboot of Amplitude, a PlayStation 2 cult classic that helped shape music games like Guitar Hero. In this game, notes stream down the screen, and you pilot a ship between six lanes, shooting the notes in time with the music. Proving that gamers are on board with new music games, Amplitude was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter, amassing nearly $1 million. The game is expected to release sometime in 2015.
There have also been rumors of Guitar Hero making a comeback in 2015. And Harmonix is working on a mysterious game called Chroma that mixes ideas taken from music games as well as shooters like Destiny.
Is the music genre primed to take off once again? That remains to be seen. But don’t be surprised if you go to a party this year and someone hands you a plastic instrument. Rock on.
Follow Chris on Twitter @_chrislreed
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