Activision recently announced that they will be bringing Band Hero to the DS and what would a new music game from Activision be without a new peripheral? Say hello to the Band Hero drum grip, the new piece of fake miniature instrument for the DS. The “Drum Grip” will slide into the GBA slot of the DS similar to the Guitar Grip of Guitar Hero On Tour. The drum grip features four drum pads which will provide a “more realistic” feel to playing the drums on the DS, the peripheral is set to launch with Band Hero in November. The game is sure to make lots of sales however, this peripheral represents a major problem for the gaming industry.
The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise from Activision, releasing the Drum Grip for the DS makes sense after the fact that Guitar Hero On Tour sold millions of units on the portable kid friendly system, with the “Guitar Grip”. However what we are seeing here might be a dangerous trend in the gaming industry and it could cause some serious problems for the average gamer. Of course I won’t argue that peripheral based haven’t benefited the industry as a whole. The Guitar Hero franchise has been responsible for much of game sales in recent years, however it seems that now companies seem to be focusing on making peripheral based games simply because they sell. Devices ranging from cameras, to instruments are now in the process of overcoming the industry, and they probably won’t slow down for a while. You might not see anything wrong with this trend however it has it’s negative side effects, and if they go unaddressed they can become problems for the industry.
One of the first problems is the obvious increase in cost, the average peripheral based game is at least $100, making it much more expensive than a traditional game, ideally you would think that’s not too bad of a deal, you only have to buy the perphrial once and then just play any game you want with it. Of course many gamers have found in recent years that their Guitar Hero peripherals aren’t compatible with their Rock Band games and vice verse, forcing us to choose a brand or shelling out extra money just because we like a few songs on one particular title. This problem will most likely take place again this holiday season with the two DJ games, both DJ Hero and Scratch use separate turntables that aren’t compatible with each other which will surely lead to many people being pissed off cause they can’t get both games. Another big problem with peripherals is that some are built for only one game, the biggest perpetrator of this is Tony Hawk Ride, the game is set to be released with a Board-Controller for around $120, and that expensive peripheral will not be usable with any other game on the market other than Ride, and it will very likely remain that way for some time. Another problem is probably the biggest, and that’s how developers are going to stop caring about the quality the game their making and instead focus on how they can make a peripheral for their title. A good example of this is Guitar Hero: On Tour, the developer behind the game was practically forced to create some sort of contraption to slap on the DS so that they can make money off the Guitar Hero name brand. This is time that could have been spent on developing an innovative game that simply used the hardware at hand.
Overall I don’t really have a problem with the game industry’s new gimmick of making money, but innovative games are what truly push the industry forward, and developers today seem to have to make a choice on whether they want to cash out, or push the boundaries of what we define as video games, I can only hope it’s the latter or we’ll be flooded with a bunch of useless plastic devices in the coming months.