Reuters dipped into the well of knowledge that is Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter and came up with a conclusion: Music games, such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, aren’t the cash cows they used to be.
Pachter says that music games, which earned $1.4 billion last year, will only earn half that amount in 2009. And that’s not for lack of trying, as this year saw the release of Beatles: Rock Band, Lego Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, Band Hero, Rock Band Unplugged, Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, Guitar Hero: Metallica and finally Guitar Hero: Van Halen, which comes out tomorrow.
But it’s important to note that Pachter’s not predicting the demise of music games. He’s merely saying that the boom is over, a bust is happening, and music games are coming back down from super stardom. His theory is that music game makers gave players too much in each release, so they don’t have to keep buying. I also like a theory posed in October by two marketing researchers from Northeastern University: There are just too many darned music games, and game makers didn’t realize they were riding a bubble.
It’s mildly amusing to me that marketing gurus and analysts are sticking with that conclusion now. Take a look at some reader comments at various gaming Web sites when Activision announced three “Hero” games at once and five different companies announced Lego Rock Band. The backlash was obvious, and that was in the spring, before the industry realized a recession was really happening.
Enthusiast gamers aren’t always great bellwethers — these are the folks who turn their noses up at the Wii — but I’m glad they were right this time. It’s insulting to see publishers churn out handfuls of music games in a single year, expecting players to lap them up. Maybe next year we’ll get a chance to forget the overplayed music genre, so we can some day remember how good it sounded the first time.