By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated November 29, 2007.
Partridge family, eat your heart out. MTV said this week that Rock Band, its new video game that allows even the most musically challenged family to rock out, is a hit.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that MTV's Mike Salmi said the game has been "flying off the shelves" in the first week of sales. Meanwhile, MTV Networks chief executive Judy McGrath said that the company plans to develop Rock Band as a platform for music-based services and games.
'Tour for Fame and Fortune'
Released a week ago, Rock Band was produced by music-games developer Harmonix with MTV Games, and is being distributed by Electronic Arts. Designed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, it is described by its creators as "an all-new platform" that allows players to assemble a band, play master lead/bass guitar, drums, and vocals, and then "tour for fame and fortune." A PlayStation 2 version is being released next month.
The game includes 58 recordings of classic songs, which the creators said is the most of any music game. Players can choose from alternative rock, classic rock, heavy metal, punk, and other genres, as well from several instruments, offline or online game modes, and individual or band playing. Players also can download song packs and other new content.
The Special Edition Bundle offers a Fender Stratocaster guitar controller, an electronic drum kit, drum sticks, a microphone, and a USB hub for plugging in the instruments.
Rock Band joins Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock in establishing rhythm-based games as one of the hottest new game categories. Peter Hartlaub, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle this week, called Rock Band "the most talked-about video game this holiday season," and said that, for entertainment value, "it doesn't get much better" than Rock Band or Guitar Hero III.
Reported Rock Band Problems
It also doesn't get much better for Guitar Hero's maker, Activision, which reported that Guitar Hero III had $113 million in sales in its first week of availability last month. The NPD Group reportedly estimated that the company sold 1.4 million units in six days.
Rock Band is priced at $170, while Guitar Hero III is about $90 to $100, depending on the version. Guitar Hero III is available for the Wii, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 2 and 3. Like Rock Band, Guitar Hero III features master tracks of dozens of classic songs, plus a Gibson Les Paul replica guitar.
But even as MTV is touting Rock Band's success, there are Web postings about problems with the game. The Next Generation Web site, for instance, noted reports of "faulty strumming mechanisms on Rock Band guitars and broken foot pedals." It pointed out that Harmonix itself posted about "an imperfection with the strum bar in an early production run of guitars." Electronic Arts has issued a replacement policy to repair or replace items at no cost.
The site also noted that the Guitar Hero III's PS3 controller was supposed to be compatible with Rock Band software, but that it's not.