Double Take is a series where we take recent announcements and occurrences in the gaming industry and offer our immediate thoughts on them.
Activision has just updated the Guitar Hero setlist and I couldn’t be happier. I’m a huge fan of the music game genre and I have been playing rhythm games since Guitar Hero launched on the PlayStation 2. That series and Rock Band defined my senior year of high school and early college years. From solo sessions at home to group gatherings, these games brought the ultimate party to various venues.
When the (mainstream) music game genre took a break following the releases of Rock Band 3 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, I was genuinely upset. As someone who enjoyed expanding my song catalog with DLC and climbing the leaderboards, I was saddened that no new content would be added to the game. I was frustrated that I wouldn’t get another instalment of these series.
Fortunately, both series came back with Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live respectively. We found both games to be a wonderful value, but for completely different reasons. Rock Band 4 allowed players to export their existing DLC to add to the game’s library, while Guitar Hero Live changed up the format of the genre entirely.
Admittedly, when I first found out about Guitar Hero Live’s setlist structure, I was nervous. The developer dropped DLC entirely and instead adopted an “on demand” structure where players can trade in tokens or “plays” in order to rock out to a song. I wasn’t a fan of that. I would rather spend $2.99 for a song in order to own it and play whenever I feel like. That was one of my favorite features in the previous installments of the game.
Requiring tokens was frustrating to me because that meant that I would need to use another one each time I wanted play a song. I like to practice songs until I can achieve 5 stars. With Guitar Hero Live, that’s tougher because it comes at the cost of tokens that can be depleted fairly quickly. When I bought the game, I started with a sour taste in my mouth, but I was optimistic that Guitar Hero Live would restore my faith in the franchise. In my review, I talked about how the “Live” mode (campaign) quickly wore out its welcome, but GHTV was fantastic. This mode is an always online mode that features competitive multiplayer and a wide variety of songs (throughout various genres) that differ from the setlist in the game’s campaign.
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There are “channels” that feature hour blocks of songs dedicated to a specific genre, premium shows (live performances that players can rock out to) and the on demand section where songs featured in the various channels can be played through the use of tokens. There are plenty of songs in the “on demand” section that will cater to music fans with many different tastes. Last week, Activision announced that songs from the artists like The White Stripes, Evanescense, Iggy Pop and more would be added to the game’s library. This week saw six more songs added in as well.
Not everyone will like this song release model, but I have come to enjoy it. I was judgmental at first and now I think this concept is revolutionary. Sure, there are micro-transactions in Guitar Hero Live (micro-transactions as a whole I don’t believe in), but they aren’t necessary at all in order to enjoy the game. The way I see it, Guitar Hero Live owners will be receiving new songs for FREE throughout the foreseeable future.
Every song is accessible to players who purchase the game. There are the disc songs (campaign) and the rest of the songs are on GHTV. For every few songs that you play, a token is added to your profile. Owners may want to play songs on demand (like I did), but after a while I forget about it. The channels are so much fun and the competition is fierce. Over time, these new songs will make an appearance on various channels in addition to being available on demand. While I like owning songs in Rock Band through DLC and expanding my library, Activision found a way to offer fans new songs without spending another dime.
It was a very risky move that ultimately proved successful. I’m unsure if there will be a sequel to Guitar Hero Live or if Activision will follow Harmonix’s plan to just support the game for the next few years through content updates, but one thing is for sure, Activision has come up with a surprisingly genius move that I support 100%. As a gamer, a music genre fan and someone who doesn’t like to spend a “fortune” on DLC, Guitar Hero Live shines when it comes to giving players more for their money. I liked both games immensely, but the business model within Guitar Hero Live gives the game a slight edge over the competition.
What do you think? Are you a fan of the way Guitar Hero Live adds new songs into the game or do you prefer the Rock Band method? Leave a comment below.