Complete Washington Post story.
The Battle of the Fake Bands
By Mike Musgrove
The American people have an important and historic decision to make this holiday season: Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band 2?
Here's how it goes: Fork over about $180 at your local electronics store, and you get a large box. Inside are a drum kit and a guitar -- or, at least, video game controllers shaped as such -- along with a microphone and a game disc. Get a few friends together, and you can put together a fake rock band. Hit the right notes on the guitar controller and sing the right tones into the microphone, and you and your friends can briefly live a videogame version of the rock-and-roll dream.
I've played both quite a bit over the past few weeks and can say one thing for sure: They both offer pretty much the same kick, and neither is a dud. Beyond that, it gets a little more complicated.
One piece of good news for baffled holiday shoppers this year is that all the "instruments" included with both titles are wireless, except for the microphones. They're also all interoperable, meaning that you can use, for example, Guitar Hero's fake ax to play Rock Band, and vice versa. Naturally, some gamer snobs have gone so far as to buy both.
While Guitar Hero is more of a household name, Rock Band has had a year-long head start on the market as the first "full band" game, said Michael Pachter, a game industry analyst who figures that the two titles will divide the market fairly evenly in the coming year. "You can argue over whether this guitar is better or whether these drums are better, but at the end of the day you're doing the same thing and the music is similar," he said.
Rock Band's fans say the title has the clear advantage because of the amount of content available for download for people who want to expand their collections. Both game discs feature similar batches of songs from bands including Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac and Modest Mouse, but Rock Band has a wide library of 500 songs available for purchase online. Recent additions range from Jimmy Buffett to punk ditties from the Dead Kennedys; so far, Rock Band fans have bought 28 million tracks this way. Guitar Hero World Tour has only 41 licensed tracks for sale so far.
While Guitar Hero's online library of licensed content is far behind Rock Band's, Kai Huang, co-founder of Guitar Hero maker RedOctane, looks at the question of the song catalogues another way. Thanks to a new feature that lets users create and upload their own songs, there are 75,000 fan-created songs available for download. Whether they're any good is another matter, but the user-created songs have been downloaded 21 million times, according to the company.