Rock Band 4 dev talks competition with Guitar Hero Live

Harmonix's Alex Rigopulos: "There's not ambition or expectation that we will outsell Guitar Hero."

GameSpot staff
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GameSpot staff
2 min read

The Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises go head-to-head once more this month with Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live. Now, Harmonix creative director and co-founder Alex Rigopulos has spoken out to talk about the competition between the rival games. In a new interview, Rigopulos says he doesn't expect Rock Band 4 will outsell Guitar Hero Live and explained why that's OK.

"There's not ambition or expectation that we will outsell Guitar Hero, that we're going up against Activision," he told GamesIndustry International. "But we don't need to. We can actually have a very healthy business serving a much more modest core, a small fraction of the people who played the game previously, and I think we're perfectly content to do that."

Part of the appeal of Rock Band 4, released October 6, is that works with many of the existing plastic guitars you may already have in your closet or under your bed. This is particularly advantageous for Harmonix, Rigopulos said, in part because it "frees us from the need to manufacture seven million units of peripherals."

This is a marked change from the last time Rock Band was popular. During the heyday of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, publishers MTV and Activision were engaged in a "slug-fest" to dominate the market, which included "trying to build as much inventory as possible to command the channel."

Rigopulos added: "That led to an oversupply situation that was kind of a financial nightmare at the end of the day for both parties. Thinking about that, I still have PTSD from that."

For Rock Band 4, Harmonix is working with peripheral company Mad Catz to make new plastic instruments.

Competitor Guitar Hero Live launches on October 20. Unlike Rock Band 4, Activision's game, developed by FreeStyle Games, does not support existing plastic guitars.

GameSpot's Rock Band 4 review scored the game a 7/10.

"Rock Band 4 recaptures the unadulterated gratification that made the series such a hit half a decade ago, but mainly because it's a relatively unchanged, repackaged Rock Band 2," editor Scott Butterworth said. "A lack of content and general stagnation hold this particular iteration of Rock Band back, but new ideas like Freestyle Solos genuinely enhance the core experience, which remains a sincere and joyful celebration of music."

For more on Rock Band 4's critical reception, check out this roundup of other scores and opinions.