Since the Activision Blizzard deal announcement a week ago, I've thought a lot about the publisher's backlog. I've said my piece on Call of Duty, and there's been much talk about where Crash and Spyro belong with Xbox. However, Guitar Hero sticks out as perhaps Activision's most unique IP, and I think it could bring a lot of value to Xbox Game Pass.
There's nothing out there quite like Guitar Hero. Sure, Rock Band continued into the last generation with a more traditional entry than Guitar Hero Live, but to me, Rock Band always lacked something. Maybe it's the emo teen in me but, Guitar Hero is just, cooler than Rock Band ever was and as a result, more fun to mess around on with mates.
Guitar Hero also branched out to specific band releases, and that seems rife for a live service type model in this day and age. Rock Band continues to boast an extensive DLC library, and has occasionally focused on specific bands (Beatles Rock Band comes to mind), but themed 'seasons' that tie into a certain band's catalogue, imagery and even their live performances? Hell yeah. Guitarist Slash featured heavily on Guitar Hero 3's artwork, but I'm still gutted we never got a proper 'Guitar Hero Guns N' Roses'. Maybe one day? I'm outing myself here...
Those themed seasons would keep players invested too. Music licensing isn't cheap, and subscription services are now the primary way we consume music. Xbox could keep plugging away at track packs, band expansions and live performance additions, while keeping them tied to Xbox Game Pass. Guitar Hero was generally a one-and-done deal back in the day, but times have changed, and keeping it all tied to a subscription makes a hell of a lot of sense.
Now, there is the small question of getting plastic instruments into houses, but Xbox should have the capacity to pull that off. The company's console production has even managed to ramp up during a particularly tough time, and then there's also the likes of Xbox Design Lab, where you can get customised accessories directly from Microsoft. There could even be a discount program in place for Xbox accounts that are subscribed to Game Pass.
It'd bolster Game Pass as a service too. Recently, I expressed how much fun I was having with co-op on Game Pass, but that was all the online variety. Pure Xbox community members were quick to point out the lack of couch co-op on Game Pass in the comments over there, and that's a valid point.
Guitar Hero would provide possibly the biggest boost to couch co-op you could ask for from one franchise. It's perfect for it, and has always been a local party game at heart. When you factor in what Microsoft could also now do with a Smash Bros. style game, we've got some great potential options for local play on Game Pass.
Even if you think about Smash Bros. though, at least casually, that works online. Sure, in a more competitive setting you'd want the pros of a local connection, but otherwise, the setup works. With Guitar Hero, it just doesn't translate particularly well to online play. Guitar Hero could be Xbox's biggest get for the family game space as well, something Phil Spencer has expressed interest in in the past.
So, yeah, basically move Call of Duty, Crash, Spyro, WoW, the whole lot aside. Prioritise Guitar Hero for me, for the emo kids out there who want to relive their teen Guitar Hero parties. We deserve it, OK?!
Do you want to see Guitar Hero return? Let us know in the comments.