In this post, the Penny Arcade guys make the point that beyond instrument capability, what we really need is song compatibility between the two. Beyond the licensing nightmare that would probably represent for both games publishers, this resonated really well for me. Here’s why and why it makes perfectly good business sense below the apparent “yeah, right, you wish” appearances.
Guitar Hero -and Rock Band even more so- are the ultimate party games. I can’t seem to go to a party these days that doesn’t have a Rock Band game running. Perfect fun. Now here’s the reason why I’ll probably pass on the next Guitar Hero: there can be only one. What are the chances that in the middle of the party, somebody will say “I want to play song X, let’s swap disks and go through the process of getting the band back together”? Let me think… yes, zero. So well, I’ll stick to what I have and what constitutes the better choice in my opinion, Rock Band. Guitar Hero World Tour just lost a customer.
Now let’s imagine for just a second that songs work on both games. If Guitar Hero has a good selection of songs, I’ll just buy it for the songs even if I never play the actual game (or just once, for the achievements :) ).
So to recap, in one case many people will only buy one of the games, in the other those same people might buy both (and play only one but who cares). Which one makes the best business sense? I believe the second one but I have no illusion that both editors will prefer to stick to the iTunes “I want it all” mindset…