Music sales were plummeting. The Recording Industry Association of America pegged its U.S. members’ sales at $10.4 billion in 2007, down 11.8 percent from the year before. Sales were expected in decrease even further in 2008. Enter Activision Blizzard Inc. & Harmonix Music Systems.
In the past 12 months the NPD Group reported $1.9 billion in music video game sales. All thanks in part to the Guitar Hero and Rock Band gaming craze. The Guitar Hero franchise since 2005 has sold over 22 million units while Rock Band was distributed 5 million units since 2007. Besides generating revenue and sales music video games are bringing people together.
Multi player games have become dynamically social since the counsels became Internet equipped. XBox Live and Wii’s Mii channel are two of the largest online gaming communities that currently network gamers together. Gaming competitions have spawned from these types of communities brining gamers face to face instead of screen to screen. The 1989 movie “The Wizard” was the first depiction of gaming competitions. Since then sports series like NBA Jam, Madden, NCAA College Football, and more have transcended the social connection video games can make. Sports gaming competitions has risen to the level that ESPN has their own website page and competitions dedicated entirely to these gaming series. While sports may not bring the entire family, or world, together music video games do have that power.
The musically challenged and gifted alike are bonding together one song at a time. Gamers often host guitar hero/rock band parties engaging and crossing between friend groups. For those less social they have the ability to connect, with the help of an Ethernet cord, with other fellow rockers online and team up for a rock’in good time. But it goes further than that. In fact it moves off the screen and into bars across the country and world. That’s right, just like the infamous Tweetup music videos games are connecting digital relationships off screen. When searching for “rock band meetups” Google kicked back 213,000 results in the US. Music video games main target market is 35 and under, but more importantly age is the only defining attribute their target market has.
Woodstock, Bonaroo, SXSW, and the World Peace One (WP1) concert have brought millions of music lovers together. Music video games will look to have the same impact on social communities as their popularity rises one shred at a time.