With both Guitar Hero and Rock Band gearing up to release new entries later this year, the battle to be the plastic shredding kit of choice in your living room continues to heat up. Today it’s Activision making another big move towards virtual rock supremacy by announcing a partnership with recently reunited Seattle grunge rock band Soundgarden. Thanks to this collaboration, North American armchair rockers who purchase one of the first million units of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will find an included copy of Soundgarden’s first album release in 13 years, Telephantasm: A Retrospective.
The included album will feature 12 songs that cover the entire scope of Soundgarden’s discography -- which is a nice way of saying that it’s a “greatest hits” record. It will feature one previously unreleased single, Black Rain, which was recorded during the 1991 sessions for the band's album Badmotorfinger. Black Rain is also one of the 90+ playable songs featured in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Players will also be able to obtain the full album as playable DLC at the time of the game’s launch.
We’ve seen Activision take some pretty aggressive marketing steps before with Guitar Hero, as when they made Metallica’s Death Magnetic album available as DLC on the same day as the album's retail release. Still, this marks a pretty significant milestone for the music/rhythm genre, as it is the first time a new album will be available solely through a game bundle. Soundgarden fans who wish to purchase Telephantasm at retail will have to wait a full week after Guitar Hero’s release.
I think this is a really great step for both the game industry and the music industry. It gives a band that hasn’t been together in years a chance to share their music and connect with a new, younger audience who didn’t realize that sounds could be planted. It also takes a subtle step forward in continuing to legitimize video games as the choice entertainment medium of the future.
If a band with a legacy like Soundgarden wants to play ball with the games industry, it continues to help the rest of the mainstream take notice. It also helps silence idiots like Jack White, who clearly has no problem cashing his music game royalty checks (both The White Stripes and The Raconteurs appear in Guitar Hero games) while at the same time bad mouthing the games as being a bad way to experience music.
While Harmonix seems to be trying to give players a more realistic experience with Rock Band 3 through the addition of Pro Mode, it would seem that Neversoft are trying to entice fans with as much music and content as possible.
Which music game will you be rocking out to this time around? Do either game’s offerings sway your purchase intent one way or the other? Or are you pretty much “all funned out” when it comes to tearing up the plastic axe? Also, do you think a move like this impacts either industry, good or bad?
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock buys you a Soundgarden CD September 28, 2010, on the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii.