New Rock Band, Guitar Hero games provide hope for industry

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Jeff Jasurda, Bobby Becsey, and Matt Hixson, all juniors in the College of Business Administration, get their faces melted off as they play Beatles Rock Band in their apartment.

Jeff Jasurda, Bobby Becsey, and Matt Hixson, all juniors in the College of Business Administration, get their faces melted off as they play Beatles Rock Band in their apartment.

The Beatles said money can’t buy love. But money can buy “The Beatles: Rock Band,” and video game companies would love consumers to spend a lot of it to help the sagging industry.

David Riley, a spokesman for NPD Group, a market research firm, said the video game industry has been one of the hardest hit by the economic recession.

August was the sixth consecutive month of declines in game sales. The month’s total of $908.7 million in overall U.S. retail sales of hardware, software and accessories was a 16 percent decline from 2008, Riley said.

The industry is hoping “The Beatles: Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero 5” can resuscitate things. “Guitar Hero” launched Sept. 1 and “Rock Band” Sept. 9.

Sales numbers of Rock Band are not being released at this time since it was launched last week, Reverb Communications spokeswoman Tracie Snitker said.

At the very least, the games pose a threat to accomplishing schoolwork with the time people will spend playing them.

“Rock Band” is distributed by Electronic Arts and published by MTV Games. Activision Blizzard Inc.’s “Guitar Hero” features the yin to The Beatles’ yang, The Rolling Stones, in its expansive lineup of artists.

While “Rock Band” is exclusively The Beatles, “Guitar Hero” includes 85 songs from 83 different artists, ranging from Johnny Cash to Kurt Cobain, AFI to Bob Dylan.

Both games sell at $59.99 for all platform versions of the basic software disc, but extras such as guitars and drum sets can add hundreds more.

“The Beatles: Rock Band” offers a $249.99 limited edition “premium bundle” that includes guitar and drum controllers modeled after the real ones used by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

The animated versions of McCartney, Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison play 45 different tracks, each song with its own individual video.

Bobby Becsey, a junior in the College of Business Administration, rarely played music video games before. Now, he and his roommates can’t stop.

“I had never played ‘Rock Band’ before, but The Beatles are my favorite band,” Becsey said. “This is a really good tribute to them, they did it right. We play it pretty much every night. It will lead to my academic downfall.”

The Beatles’ multiplayer capability allows for up to three vocalists and three others to play guitar, bass and drums.

Mikey Barreras, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, grew up listening to The Beatles. He said this new game provides pure rock bliss for him and his family.

“With being one of five kids, and this has a lot parents can relate to as well, it’s the best of both worlds,” Barreras said. “It kind of bridges a gap between the generations since we all love The Beatles.”

Both Becsey and Barreras pre-ordered the game months before it hit stores, each buying add-ons to the main software disc.

“Guitar Hero 5” is aiming for both a quantity and quality approach in an attempt to boost its numbers.

In a statement, “Guitar Hero” president and CEO Dan Rosensweig promised this was “the best Guitar Hero ever” and has also announced a buy one, get one free promotion.

Anyone who buys “Guitar Hero 5” also can fill out an online form to redeem a free copy of the Van Halen version of “Guitar Hero,” set to premiere in December. That offer lasts until Oct. 1.

Tom Kerlin, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said the variety of “Guitar Hero” drew him into buying it.

“There are songs for everyone, whether you are into classic rock, glam rock, indie, alternative or heavy metal,” Kerlin said. “Overall, I think this game is for someone looking for a variety of good music to play or for someone looking for a game that everyone can enjoy.”