platsic-guitars   During the era of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band reigned strong. They influenced a generation of gamers and dominated the party scene. They were king until the moment they up and disappeared, never to be seen again. Once Activision – Guitar Hero’s publisher – called it quits the music genre died down. Only remnants in the form of SingStar, Lips, and Rocksmith made small, but insignificant entries into the scene. It’s not hard to see why the music genre disappeared. The market was flooded with spinoffs and sequels from both Rock Band and Guitar Hero. There were DJ Hero and Band Hero games coming in as well. There had been little innovation in the genre aside from introducing new instruments. By the end of the generation everyone was tired of playing music games. They’d had their fill of plastic instruments and the same kind gameplay over the course of several games. The landscape has changed now. We’ve moved into the new generation of systems: the PS4 and Xbox One. By now even the way we consume DLC has changed. With the coming of new systems, there’s space for the music genre to make a comeback. But the developers would have to smart about it. There are steps that have to be taken in order to ensure the music genre isn’t passed over. The first would be the management of the songs. The music is easily the most important aspect of music/plastic instrument games. The old way of buying each song or album won’t work anymore. The cost is simply too much for people to bare anymore. Instead season passes or a Spotify like system would be the better way to go. For the season pass approach people would be able to pay $30/$40 and get all the songs that come out in a six month period. As for the Spotify idea, you could have people sign up for a subscription model – maybe $10 a month – that gives them all the songs that come out until they decide to cancel. This would take away the wall of getting people to put in their info every time they want to buy something and would allow buyers to just play the game. Every time they boot up the game there are new songs for them and their friends to play with. Another approach to the song library would be to have a rental system. Say you only break out the game when you have a bunch of friends over for a party. Instead of worrying about picking and choosing which songs to buy for your group to play with, you could pay a flat fee to rent the entire song library for a few hours – perhaps the amount would change based on how long you want the songs for. That would allow people to opt in whenever they wanted and not have to worry about paying a huge amount for a game that they won’t play very often. In some cases innovation is already happening in the genre. Take for example SingStar’s idea that you can use your phone as a microphone. That’s a genius idea that lowers the cost of the game – because it won’t include a USB mic – and allow anyone to play. You won’t have to worry about wires or how many microphones you have. It’s perfect for the party atmosphere. And while a small niche of gamers might want to plug in their guitars and other instruments to the game, it’s a viable option. Why not allow people to use the “controllers” they already have? It only allows more people to buy your game because they don’t have to opt for another plastic instrument. They can just use and practice with the instruments they have at home. Sure that may mean people spend less money upfront, but it would allow them to use that money to buy DLC – where all the real money is. There are several ways in which developers can innovate in the genre. If publishers want to see a resurgence of one of gaming’s most popular genres, they need to play it smart. They need to take the appropriate steps in order to get people on board again. If they do, the gaming industry could see the reign of music games return. And with it bring a new age of how people consume content. There’s potential for these games to change things industry wide. Now is the perfect time for such a thing to happen.