Ubisoft is targeting MI dealers with its Rocksmith game, lets you use a real electric guitar to play games and learn tunes and new techniques through a console or PC.
It has the potential to be a real moneyspinner for MI dealers if it gets the sales and marketing right, not just in sales of the game itself (and of course sale of a guitar to go with it), but also through the opportunity it presents to encourage a new audience to learn the instrument.
Ubisoft has already put together a bundle deal, which includes the game and an Epiphone guitar for £159.99, which will be sold exclusively through Amazon, allowing indies to put together their own bundle packages in-store.
“We didn’t feel as though it was entirely relevant to have this guitar bundle featured within MI retailers as they already have a great selection of instruments in-store that could be sold alongside the game anyway, for those that would like more choice in their instrument,” explained brand manager, Rachael Grant.
The firm sees the game positioned as an alternative learning product, with gameplay that adjusts according to the user’s level of proficiency on the guitar.
“Rocksmith offers the most authentic guitar experience in music gaming and we really feel that the game allows players to develop genuine guitar skills and various styles, while playing popular guitar tracks from the latest hits to classic rock songs,” added Grant.
“With Rocksmith being a game aimed at teaching beginners how to play guitar, we would love to have a presence within traditional musical retailers as an alternative learning product.”
However, there will inevitably be some resistance and lack of enthusiasm from MI retailers sceptical about a video game being the right fit for a musical instrument store.
“It definitely is the right product for MI retailers,” said Grant. “First and foremost this game is a learning tool to encourage people to play guitar, or to pick up their guitars once again and show a new enthusiasm for them. We think that Rocksmith is set to be a new video game franchise that could revolutionise the music genre.
“It is the first and only game where players can plug any real guitar with a standard quarter-inch input jack into an Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, a PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system or PC, and play through an in-depth library of music, including everything from the latest hits to classic rock songs.
“All the information will be available for retailers, to give them the knowledge on what the premise of the game is, and all the features and technicalities of the game.”
But, gameplay aside, is the game actually any good for teaching you how to play the guitar? Well, having had a good old tinker with it, you would have to say yes. It’s no substitute for a good teacher of course, but in terms of learning the basics and providing a fun way to encourage even proficient players to practice through the various different mini games which help learn chords and scales, it works.
The basic game itself is not hugely different to Guitar Hero, with a good selection of songs and artists including Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Bowie, Muse, Kings of Leon, The Rolling Stones, Cream and The Cribs to name but some.
Unlike Guitar Hero, however, it will challenge non-guitar players to fret actual strings and use a plectrum to pick them with, as opposed to pressing buttons and flicking a rocker switch.
If they can master that, the game will take them further with techniques such as hammer-ons, slides and pull-offs, as well as scales and chords. In short, while a proper teacher will help make more sense of it all, Rocksmith could definitely produce a competent player at the end of it. And, most importantly, another new retail customer.