The creators of market rivals Guitar Hero and Rock Band have insisted that the future is bright for the music games genre, with the rising prominence of user-created content driving continued success.
Throughout 2009 sales of music games fell by nearly 50 per cent to $1bn in North America.
I absolutely do not believe that rhythm-action gaming has reached its peak,” Harmonix founder Alex Rigopulos told Edge. 2009 was a tough year with the recession, which especially affects music games given the relatively high price point of instrument bundles.
But in the long term, people's passion for music isn't going away, and rhythm gaming will continue to provide people with a deeper level of engagement with the music they love.”
Guitar Hero project director Brian Bright concurs: As far as sales exceeding Guiter Hero III's in the future, only time will tell, but it's a tall order.
I think user-created content is key to the evolution. If you can't create or edit licensed music due to copyright laws then you're limited to pretending to play someone else's music. I think the key is to create music, but make it compelling to create, so the game is in the creation, not the playback.”
Harmonix recently opened the beta of its Rock Band Network, a service that allows users to upload their own musical creations for other users of the game to download and play.
Despite prophesies of doom and gloom, there has been good news in recent times for the sector. The music genre was the second most popular in North America's bumper December sales period, while new IP DJ Hero was named as the most successful new IP of 2009.