Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Guitar Hero Effect

Mock all you want. You know who you are. (Yes, YOU.) So go ahead and mock. All you want (as I just said). Mock, mock, mock. But there won't be any mocking of the facts. That's right. The facts! And the facts are, the Guitar Hero franchise is a freaking money making machine! Ah-HA! I knew it! I knew I wasn't the only one who played that damn thing. (How many hours of my life have I spent on that thing? Who knows? All I know is that it is time I will never get back. Ever. It's gone. And was it worth it? Hell, yes.)

I knew the whole Guitar Hero thing was huge, but I didn't know just how huge. In the past 12 months, the sale of music video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band hit $1.9 billion. Yes, billion with a 'B'. Billion. 1.9. Holy crap. And get this: According to the pop culture folks over there at PopEater, "Aerosmith made more money off the June release of "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" than either of its last two albums." June. Of 2008. That's six freaking months ago! Man, if the Federal Government could figure out somehow to weasel their way into the video game industry, that budget problem we keep hearing about? Solved! And not just solved. Solved and fun!

And the revenue fun doesn't stop with just the sale of the game. Oh, no. There have been 55 million times that game-playable songs have been downloaded to the tune of about $1.99. Each. And with all of this cash and the fame and glory naturally comes the bitching and the lawsuit filing. Not necessarily in that order and not necessarily by the same person.

In what was quite possibly the stupidest lawsuit ever brought by a band against a video game maker (and I have no idea how many there have been, but it doesn't matter because this will continue to the the stupidest lawsuit of its kind (ie, band v. game guys) from now until the end of time. It's that ridiculous.), The Romantics sued Activision for infringement of rights. (Now, I know The Romantics were an 80s band, but was there really that much fringe?) Oh, they had licensed the song from The Romantics, sure. Activision was given permission to have a cover band do the song "What I Like About You" for the Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s game. The problem? The Romantics said that the song that the cover band recorded sounded too much like The Romantics did, thus allegedly infringing upon the group's rights to its own likeness.

Sure, you can record our song! Sure, make it sound like our song! Hey, wait a minute! Not that much!! That's not us!! We don't sound like that! We sound like this! Yes, we know they sound the same. But they're different! That's the point! Different is supposed to be different and that different is the same and it can't be the same because it's supposed to be different! You buying any of that? I didn't think so. A judge didn't buy it either and tossed their suit out. (The only thing that would have made it better is if the judge had tossed The Romantics right on out along with the suit.)

Then there's Axl Rose. Axl has spent the last 13 years working on a Guns N' Roses album titled "Chinese Democracy". That's correct. Thirteen years. It was finally released at the end of November to much less fanfare than it would have been released to if Axl had finished it about 12 years ago. And he's apparently built up quite a head of steam over the folks at Activision and what he claims is unauthorized usage of Guns N' Roses songs in Guitar Hero III (which featured Slash, the awesome guitar player for Guns N' Roses back in the day. "The day" being when the band was together and Axl and Slash could actually stand to be in the same room with each other and shoot up heroin together.).

Axl got a little bloggy with it the other day and penned this missive: "[Slash] being Guitar Hero’s fine but not when Activision in using Jungle, having Yahoo use Sweet Child unauthorized, claims no involvement with Slash, his or anyone's image or VR or anyone or anyone's music in either camp in promotion or commercials etc. I wasn't broadsided. I read about it as it moved along but Activision continually denied it right up to the release. That’s some low life chicanery on all their parts." Wow. I was just reading that in my head and it felt like my tongue was all fuzzy trying to get through it. (He does get points for the use of "chicanery", however. Very nice. I like a vast vocabulary in my nearly forgotten rockers of yester-year.) He continued (Yes! There's more!) with: "Yes Slash was in Guns and on Jungle (and the whole I came to him for his riff is as much crap as him saying he brought Locomotive and Coma in as complete songs) and he has rights to perform it but not to be represented in this context in association with Guns. And since they weren't granted the license it’ll take some sorting." I see. (My tongue's all fuzzy again.)

Axl also claims that he is the "only member" of Guns N' Roses that is left. Um, wait. If you're the only one left, that means that everyone else is gone, correct? Thus, wouldn't that constitute the band being dismantled and having, thusly, NO members? I found that amusing. It's like saying, "Our band broke up, but I'm still here." That doesn't mean you're still the band! But here's the thing: This is the first time that Axl has voiced his displeasure with the whole dealio. Just now. December, 2008. Guitar Hero III was released in December. December 2007!

Seriously, Axl, how upset can you be? It's been a year. Is this news to you? I can't imagine that it is. I guess now that the ol' album is finally done you have plenty of spare time to bitch about stuff, is that it? Perhaps spend just a few moments learning a tad bit more about the English language and how to compose a sentence. Don't get me wrong, all of your words made sense...independently of each other. But stringing them together in an attempt to form some sort of a coherent sentence? Not so good. Might want to work on that....right after you get over yourself.

And while Axl has no reason to bitch, I do. Sometimes things that are successful also get a little full of themselves. Just like Axl. And while I'm not comparing the two or justifying either one, I just have to ask, what in the hell were the folks over there at Guitar Hero thinking when they made all of their advertisements for the game center around Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" and then did not include the song in the game?! What is wrong with you people? What good does that do? Yes, it's a catchy tune! Yes, a lot of people like it! Yes, a lot of people will hear that and want to buy the game! But do you know why they would want to buy the game after hearing that song? Because they will think the song is IN the game!! What part of that concept got lost over there, Guitar Hero guys?

What if you went to the grocery store and you bought a box of Cheerios because those toasty oaty O's on the front of the box looked really tasty. (OK, for this example, I suppose you might also want to pretend you haven't eaten in a few days, because I really can't think of any other reason that Cheerios might look appetizing, let alone desirable.) And then I get the box home and I open it up and I'm all excited for the Cheerios and I go to pour them in my bowl and nothing comes out! By not putting "Old Time Rock and Roll" on the actual Guitar Hero World Tour game, it's exactly like not getting any Cheerios. Exactly. Well, minus the toasty oaty goodness of the O's. But other than that? Identical.

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1 comment:

La Belle Canadienne said...

Thanks I needed that laugh...u r always good 4 increasing the good ol' endorphins...u and axl rose's use of the English language...u 4got ur signature