Red Octane Founder Talks Guitar Hero Franchise Extension, Natal Implementation and Subscription
In a recent excerpted interview with The Seattle Times, Red Octane co-founder Kai Huang talked briefly on the series’ future of the Hero brand. Presenting a positive air despite the accusation that music rhythm games may “have run their course”, Huang talked in vague “what ifs” surrounding broadening genre, camera technology and the potential for a subscription service instead of, or indeed alongside, individually priced DLC.
“There are just so many different genres of music and instruments that haven’t been tapped into yet” boasted Huang, presumably rubbing his hands together behind his back. Despite discussing DJ Hero’s relatively low sales as reported by first month NPD data, Huang seemed confident in the continual flogging of the genre’s flagging horse. Country, Classical and Latin music were all mentioned as potential cash cows by the peripheral Grandaddy, though Activision have yet to trademark either Sibelius or Maraca Hero.
“One of the areas we’re exploring certainly is camera technology and what you can do” spoke Huang after posed a question regarding Natal. He went on to talk about the potential to “track your movements and maybe have your characters on the screen do certain things you’re doing”, increasing the connection between player and avatar. Whilst certainly a step beyond merely including your 360 avatar for selection, I would hope that Natal’s implementation would extend beyond plonking you alongside a re-animated Cobain. Indeed, the potential image of your chiselled player character desperately struggling mid-solo with the guitar’s star-power accelerometer applies wholesale to Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw scathing comment regarding Wii Sports Resort: now it really is “all about games which test one’s willingness to embarrass oneself”.
Perhaps most interesting, when asked about the potential for a “monthly subscription to a ‘Guitar Hero’ catalog [sic]“, Huang replied:
That’s definitely one of the things we would love to do. There are a lot of issues around music licensing. Consumers want it; I know I want it. We’re trying to make that happen.
Although unconfirmed, it seems a likelihood that music games will eventually travel the pay-to-play route. Though not a horrible idea in theory, it is inevitably pricing and licensing limitation that will denote the long term success of a World of Warcraft style financial model.