Harmonix: Exclusive Artist Deals "Not Good For Anyone"

Illustration for article titled Harmonix: Exclusive Artist Deals "Not Good For Anyone"

Activision think they know how to "win" the music game arms race. They think signing big artists to "exclusivity" deals - where they can appear only in Guitar Hero games - will help tip the balance in their favour. They can think what they want, it's rubbish, as all it does is piss the people off who already bought the "other" music game. Plus it makes Activision look really mean. Refreshingly, that's a sentiment shared by Harmonix's Eric Brosious, who told IGN:

We prefer not to sign exclusive deals with artists because while it seems like the competitive "business" thing to do, in the long run, it's really not good for anyone. We think we should be working to get more music out to more people.

Our hat is tipped to you, sir. Rock Band 2: Behind the Music [IGN]

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@WGSXFrank: Your comparisons don't really hold up. This isn't a case of one company developing some new or interesting exclusive "feature". They're just throwing a bucket of money at one band or another to encourage them to take their ball and go home when it comes to licensing for multiple games. They did not -do- anything or develop anything new; instead, they decided to prey upon the existing fan-base and artificially force their hands by ensuring that their favorite band won't ever show up anywhere else.

Comparing it to record labels makes no sense for a couple reasons:

1: Do you really want the baseline for your comparison of consumer friendliness and business ethics to be -the music industry-?

2: If you buy a CD, it's a CD. The fact that money is going to one company or another does not affect you as a consumer. On the other hand, Rock Band and Guitar Hero are different. An artist being unavailable on one or the other because of exclusivity deals -is- a loss to the consumer.

There might be some validity to the console wars analogy (which I usually -also- think is pretty lame). However, even then, there are other concerns (like the increased dev time/cost of working on multiple platforms).

"To be honest, if GH's exclusivity rights bring more people to them, then great! If more people go to RB because of it, that's just as great! Either way, maybe it will force one game to either make their peripherals compatible with the other or force one game series to come to an end. "

Well, the instruments for this upcoming generation supposedly already ARE cross-compatible, so that's irrelevant. As to one series or the other ending...yes, that's bad for consumers. If the instruments work for all the games, how does having LESS choice in what game to get help the consumer? Instead, it gets us back into a monopoly-like situation where we basically have to just sit down and accept whatever they deign to give us.

If the two games were to compete based on features, that'd be great. The problem is that these exclusives actually dilute that. It then becomes possible for one company to make a considerably inferior game, but because they threw out a whole bunch of money to get some high-profile exclusives, they still get more attention.