Music Video Game Genre is always the game genre that close to my heart, I love them very much, and would like to write about it in details, hopefully give you some insight or my opinion about this game genre.
Introduction to Mucis Video Game
Music Video Game, or Music Game are where the gameplay is depend or oriented around the player interaction with a musical piece or song. Music game genre is a huge genre of the game, and had been growing and gaining popularity in recent years.
You can find music game on almost everywhere you can play game. Its on PC, arcade, console, handheld & mobile. I will write a series of blog post about the music game on different platforms and hopefully will introduce you to music game, or if you are already into music game, hopefully this series of posts will give you more information and also provide you alternative to this genre of game.
Music Video Game by Country
The master of the Music Game genre will be either Korea or Japan, well, I cant name only one therefore i name both. Both of the country produce excellent music games since long time ago.
Some of the well known titles that came out from Korea developers and companies are VOS by HanseulSoft (if you still remember this), Audition by T3, O2Jam by O2Media, Pump It Up by Andamiro, and DJMax by Pentavision.
From Japan, we have the extremely popular and well respected team from BEMANI, the Konami’s music game division. They brought us Beatmania (also where the BEMANI name come from), Dance Dance Revolution aka DDR, Pop’n Music & Pop’n Stage (which is not that well known outside of Japan and asia market), Guitar Freaks & Drum Mania, Para Para Paradise, Jubeat or UBeat/YouBeat, Reflec Beat and more. Its impressive how many games can the team bring to us.
While US developers also working hard on music game genre at the same time, not until recent years they have great success and mass adoption. Most notable developer is the Harmonix team, which are behind Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Dance Central. Other successful games are DJ Hero by FreeStyle Games, Tap Tap by Tapulous, Just Dance by Ubisoft and many others.
The Music of the Music Video Games
One of the diffrenciation between asia music games (Korea and Japan) and US music games, are the music itself. If you noticed that games like O2Jam, DJMax and Bemani’s games, most of the titles have their own original musics and visual art. Bemani even have their own significant lineup of Bemani Artist, same goes to Pentavision. Even if there are POP songs (KPOP or JPOP), it wont take up the entire game, or there will still be original songs in the game. On the other hand, games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Tap Tap etc are focus more on POP songs, featuring only the hottest tracks at the moment, and they will usually come out with a newer game or update with more recent pop songs in it.
For me, I dont like the direction that the game consist of only pop songs or most of them are pop songs. I think pop song is a great way to bring new player to the game, and therefore generate huge revenue and attraction for the title, but due to the nature of pop songs, being overplay on radio or iPod, and new songs come out and old songs fade out in less than a year, its proven that the game will need a lot of new content (new songs) to keep the game alive. One good case will be Guitar Hero and Harmonix. The game did extremely well at the period of 2005~2009, but slowly, people just stop buying the game. And by 2011 Activision decide to cease development of further titles, and says thats its because of the “declines in the music genre”. While Tap tap is doing fine mainly because of the freemium model of the game, frequent updates, and also the game is on mobile where more likely people will play it everyday.
One reason I like playing music games is because, I can listen to some new and interesting songs, and also replay those original songs of the games. I really like the BeautifulDay songs in O2Jam, the bemani series, and favourite of all time DJMax Artists. While games like AuditionSEA, Super Dancer Online 9you version (XDO Malaysia version) which I’ve stop playing due to the songs aren’t keep me coming back to the game, I can listen to them on radio, shopping mall or everywhere I go.
I do hope that more music games start to invest and release their own set of original songs.
Is There A Decline In Music Game Genre?
Yes and no.
Firstly, what is stopping music games be distributed and available everywhere like every other type of game like Call of Duty?
Most of the games like Guitar Hero, Tap Sonic and even some Bemani games we can hardly find it outside of their own country. Most Bemani games ended up being released only in Japan for quite a while, before releasing it internationally. Many times gamers will need to import the game in order to play it, and not to forget some of them are region locked.
This is NOT because of the target market is not there, nor the localization problem, but the licensing of the music in the game. For games that uses pop songs and most of the will consist of songs from different record label, negotiating the right to distribute the game worldwide is not easy. And not counting how much the licensing fee will cost them to license for each region. Thats why most of those games ended up having another version of the game consist of different songs for international release. I think this do hurt the music game genre, because when gamers cant get what they want legally, they will ended up pirate it and find ways around it. Therefore it hurt the sales.
The solution for this, again is to get more original songs, have artists that under the control of the developer or publisher of the game. They can publish the game internationally much more easier if they did that.
On the other hand, the music game genre is not in a decline because of the technology. With the recent technology like touch screen, motion sensing and others, new gameplay methods are constantly being tried and it hasnt stop to wow me. For touch screen, ReRave is the game with completely new gameplay method which are really interesting and well done. Dance Central with Kinect bring the dancing game to a whole new level, way more better than DDR, or even Para Para Paradise. Dance Central take advantage of the full body motion tracking, and also you can play it at home! With all these new technology being more accessible to consumer, the future of music game genre is really bright and shiny.
On the next blog post in the series, I will start introducing different type of music games, and on different platform.
Do let me know what do you think of music game genre, in a whole or share your thought of a specific game in the genre.
Bemani game logos picture made by megawolf77