Is the new wave of music games destined to fail like guitar hero?
While series like Guitar Hero brought the spotlight to a new genre of music gaming, it also sullied the space for years to come. The innovative controller and instrument-like gameplay took the world by storm, reeling in over $1 billion in the US alone in 2008, but it quickly fell apart. The general consensus is that publishers Activision grossly oversaturated its own market, with as many as five separate versions released in 2009 alone. The franchise welcomingly pivoted during its run, exploring electronic dance music with DJ Hero, but even that couldn’t stop the sinking ship.
With the most innovative and seemingly unstoppable property in the music game market suddenly dropping off of the face of the earth, so too did the perception of music games. If no one was buying Guitar Hero and DJ Hero anymore, then why would they buy any other titles that tie music to gaming. However, over the last few years, and still going now, several developers have been playing with the formula, potentially forging a comeback for the genre – but will this new wave survive?
Swipe and tap to the rhythm
At its core, DJ Hero and Guitar Hero were just rhythm games that required rather expensive equipment to play. Mobile game developers took the gameplay and made it more accessible through touch-screen devices. The aim is very much the same, hitting the right beats at the right moments, but some games build on the format slightly.
The most-used music game app on Android right now, Beat Blade: Dash Dance, has the user guiding a ninja to chop down blocks to the rhythm of the track. Publisher Amanotes has also gone big on mobile music gaming with Tiles Hop: EDM Rush!, Magic Tiles 3, and Dancing Road: Color Ball Run all among the top games of the genre. As the titles are free-to-play, publishers can bring out as many games as they want – provided the games are of a high standard.
Spinning to some tunes
One gaming platform which is always looking to explore any niche of genre available is that of the online casino industry. However, leaning into the music gaming isn’t a mere gimmick or theme change, with the most popular electronic dance games at online casino sites all offering something different. While the likes of DJ Wild and Cosmix Dance regularly pop up in the popular games chart, it’s the official Hardwell slot from StakeLogic which has proven to be the biggest attraction at sites like 777.
Hardwell was keen to have his music and exemplary visual effects infused into the game, with the DJ himself also featuring as an animated character in the slot. The release shows that developers can follow music trends, and create a popular offering based on new major artists – keeping the genre relevant.
It’s not just in mobile or online casino circles that the music theme is becoming popular again, though. While to a more understated degree, consoles are promoting upcoming music genre games now, with No Straight Roads and Metal: Hellsinger on the way. There’s enough variety, spread across platforms, and gradually-building interest that a much more sustainable scene for the genre appears to be in the making.
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