A leak from the price testing of Rock Band fills gamers with shock and awe on two points:
1. Rock Band’s peripherals are expensive
2. Gamers don’t like paying for expensive stuff and in fact want everything free
Being a jew, after hearing Rock Band announced, I had two reactions–this game would be awesome, and many peripherals would be expensive. Seeing as guitars for guitar hero are rapacious in price (my wallet cries “my anus!”), and extra microphones for karaoke revolution aren’t exactly free either, it’s no surprise that a game with a microphone, two guitars, and a DRUM SET is clocking in at a lot of money. The drum set in particular scared me, since the congas from Donkey Conga (or however it’s spelled) weren’t exactly cheap. Making a larger drum set that is convincing and fun to use is not going to clock in inexpensive.
This is going to be a big challenge for Harmonix, one that if they can’t conquer is going to potentially undermine their success. On the one hand, one of the awesome parts of Guitar Hero is the quality guitar. So you don’t want them skimping on the guitars, or the drum set. If the drum set sucks, no one will want to play it, and it will invalidate ¼ of the game’s content (all drum tracks for the slow).
It’s a tough situation. Being a rich jew, I think it’s well within the developer’s rights to have expensive peripherals if the quality and utility is there. Of course I also recognize people don’t have to buy expensive shit, especially with the costs of consoles these days. Perhaps if they integrate with the Guitar Hero 2 guitars (possible), it may encourage people to purchase more microphones and drum sets since they already own guitars. My guess is that most people will opt just for the guitars and microphones (1 guitar and 1 mic gives you 2 player functionality, satisfying most non party scenarios), while gamers with more money will buy everything. Plus you can always bring your own guitar to a friend’s house. Given the tremendous success of GH2 and the desire for more songs, this might be enough to carry the day with the internet multiplayer functionality.
It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, as this is one of the most lucrative peripheral franchises in some time. The expanded functionality may prove to be the downfall of the game simply from a cost perspective.