Music games, sometimes referred to as” soundtrack games” or “music simulation,” have been around almost as long as video games themselves. However, their meteoric rise and swift fall have been less meteoric, in fact, much more like lightning from the blue. From a mere pips up in popularity to a full-fledged overhaul within just a year, these clever little musical gadgets have received everything from crowd invitations to endorsements from the likes of Beyonce Knowles and Usher. This is the tale of how a little music game and a little perseverance ended up becoming huge phenomena in just a year, before fading away nearly all together. Here’s how it happened…
There are several different categories of musical instruments available in music games. There are rhythm-based games, which basically require the player to hit drums or keys in order to build music tracks from a few basic chords and rhythm arrangements. Then there are piano based rhythm games which, again, require the player to strike the keys in order to build tracks from a variety of chords and basic rhythm arrangements. There are also vocal based music games that require players to sing or bark out rhythms and melodies in order to score points. The number of songs in a single game ranging from five to fifty depends on the overall complexity of the game and its overall length.
In the summer of 2021, a tiny little rhythm game called Rock Band 3 (also known as “The iPod”) was downloaded by millions upon millions of people worldwide. Just a few months later, it was purchased by Apple for an incredible amount of money – some reports say that it grossed over two billion dollars! And in just the past year and a half, the game has experienced such amazing increases in sales that it is now the top selling download on iTunes, raking in over four hundred and fifty million dollars in revenue!
The rise of Rock Band 3 is not unique within the music game genre; several other games have enjoyed massive sales increases over the past year. However, what makes Rock Band 3 so popular? There are several major reasons. First and foremost, the game is actually very easy to learn and play. It is considered by many to be one of, if not the best, modern music games available. The fact that it can be played using only a standard game controller and hearing aid, while simultaneously providing an incredibly full sound track, makes it one of the most versatile and entertaining games available today.
Also, the game’s ability to allow multiple players simultaneously is incredibly useful. When combining the popularity of Rock Band with the popularity of Guitar Hero, it is perhaps easy to see why these two games have combined in the past several years. Guitar Hero allows you to play guitar and drum while watching the famous song, featuring a huge list of famous guitarists. Rock Band allows you to play both the guitar and the drums simultaneously, while also featuring your favorite artists and songs. Both of these games are continuously gaining in popularity.
Finally, there is another factor that all of these games share: they have created a unique environment where music gamers can creatively express themselves through playing their favorite songs. In particular, Harmonix has taken advantage of the integration of the Emotion Engine within the game to produce a highly successful vocal cast. Artists such as Nelly, Jazzy Jeff and Pharrell Williams have all produced their own videos for their games, which have become some of the most popular on YouTube. As more people become familiar with this technology, it is likely that this type of vocalization will become more commonplace in future music games.