rock-star-slash-sells-guitar-hero-iii-to-the-first-fans-in-line-at-the-launch-party-for-guitar-hero-iii-legends-of-rock-prese-jcW6HgWith the success of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises over the last few years, it is evident that music based video games have taken a permanent place in popular culture. It seems that you can’t go to a party nowadays without someone having an installment of one of those franchises hooked up to a TV. While I personally have never mastered these games, my constant mess ups as proof, they bring people together like only a few other games can.

That being said, it seems that both franchises have fallen victim to the sequel disease. Guitar Hero is already on it’s fifth installment, and Rock Band will likely release it’s third within the next year. And, of course, there are the offshoots of the franchises. Guitar Hero has Aerosmith and Metallica versions, along with an 80’s themed edition and multiple portable versions. Meanwhile, Rock Band just released a Beatles themed version, marking the Fab Four’s first foray into video game territory. With no less than 12 versions of Guitar Hero and five versions of Rock Band, one is left to wonder how many more ideas the gane’s parent companies can come up with before the idea is old.

Now, before the end of 2009, we will have two more spin offs to add to these games ever growing repertoires. October 27th marks the release of DJ Hero, a turntable version of Guitar Hero, where you will able to remix songs and make different sorts of effects. Daft Punk will play in the background, as will DJ Jazzy Jeff and Grandmaster Flash. Then one week later, on November 3, Lego Rock Band will hit stores. It will feature Lego versions of Iggy Pop, Blur, and other artists as avatars.

When I first heard about these new additions, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. It seems that Activision (Guitar Hero) and EA Games (Rock Band) have no intention on slowing down with rehashing or putting new twists on old franchises when there is money to be made.  The problem with this is that after a while, these series will become almost formulaic and predictable. The magic and originality of the first few installments will be lost amidst the sea of yearly updates and special editions. I have seen this happen with many different franchises in my time, and it is sad to see that Guitar Hero and Rock Band will eventually become as bland and faceless as the Madden or Tony Hawk series. Here’s hoping that I am wrong, and that both companies never run out of fresh ideas.