GDC: New US studio unveils 'real guitar' game

GDC: New US studio unveils 'real guitar' game

By Michael French in San Francisco

March 11th 2010 at 5:32PM

Power Gig comes with six-string peripheral; Creator says it can turn around failing music game genre

A new US developer has decloaked at GDC, revealing a new game it thinks can revitalise the competitive mass market music game genre.

Seven45 Studios is a Boston-based team of  former LucasArts, Pandemic, Atari and Vivendi vets working on their first game, Power Gig.

But as a subsidiary of music instrument firm First Act - which supplies 90 per cent of the mass market instrument sector in America via the likes of CostCo, Best Buy, Target and others - the firm is building a game that doesn't use a plastic instrument, but a real guitar.

The genuine six-string peripheral is a hybrid controller and instrument. It features strings and real strumming with a plectrum as opposed to flicking a plastic strum bar. It has a special dampener which, when depressed, turns off the game controller elements and allows players to plug the guitar into an amp.

It's a complex piece of kit that is designed to provide a hefty shot in the arm for an industry category which has famously slumped as the guitar controllers used in the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band hit saturation point in the market.

"This is what we think the consumer has been screaming for in the video game business," VP of marketing Jeff Walker told Develop.

"With our hardware expertise we are in a great position to go into a genre that is on the decline, kick it in the ass and turn it around."

The bundled game features both typical, simpler game elements and a more advanced 'Recording mode' - this asks players to hold specific strings effectively 'stealth teaching' them chord progressions as they play.

Matt Sughre, the game's executive producer, added: "We are presenting this as an entertainment product first - but learning to play the guitar is a positive side effect. We won't market the game as 'learn how to play the guitar' - but that is part of the game.

"It's probably the most complex game controller ever made - it's sophisticated enough to know where your fingers are, but at the same time is smart enough to detect the most basic input for novice users."

Power Gig will be launched in the US towards the end of the year, with the European and UK roll out planned for early 2011. The game is actually a full band game - drums are to be revealed at E3.

Seven45 and its manufacturer parent plan to handle everything themselves for the game - manufacturing, development, distribution, marketing, and negotiations to sign in-game music talent - much in the way Red Octane did with Harmonix when Guitar Hero landed five years ago.

Walker told Develop his team will build on the success laid by Guitar Hero and its rival Rock Band.

"Activision and Harmonix rapidly built a $4bn market and even though it has halved, it's still $2bn.

"That's a lot of customers interested in music games. And we're a lot more nimble, not a conglomerate - so success for us is different to success for them. We're confident that we will have a significant impact on the music game genre and the video game business. There is a segment out there screaming for this type of product - and because of our core business on the First Act side of things we can address the whole intimidation factor.

"And any player that thinks the guitar might be too complex for them - this will prove them wrong."