|The Thirteenth Annual Interactive Audio Conference
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 2008
Report: "PRAGMA" Rebooted
Jim Rippie, independent
|Guy Whitmore, Microsoft|
|Brian Schmidt, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC||Simon Ashby, AudioKinetic|
|Todor Fay, New Blue Inc.|
Original Members, 2004:
“Clearly, some hugely winning ideas have no precedent, cannot be predicted, and will never be approved by the cowardly and risk averse”
At the 2004 Project BarBQ, the PRAGMA (Pet Rocks and Game Music Alliance) group explored the issues and potential of creating and enjoying music in the living room using non-traditional, powerful computing devices: game consoles. A lot has changed in just four years.
An old generation of game consoles has nearly rotated out of the retail market in favor of a new generation of even more powerful consoles on store shelves and in millions of households world wide. New game applications using music appeared, ones that challenge the basic notion of what a “game” is when the musical experience predominates.
In 2004, the original group took its name partly from the unprecedented success of 70’s phenomenon “Pet Rock.” It sold in the millions, challenging the notion that every great success can be predicted with market research, business planning and enough pie charts. The group imagined what it might have looked like if the “inventor” of the Pet Rock had to plead his/her case to venture capitalists in order to launch the business and start production. The group imagined a lot of laughing.
But you can’t argue with millions of sales and early retirement, even if you wanted to debate the actual value to the customer. Back in 2004, the group gritted its teeth in poisoning envy of the undeniable success of selling boxed rocks and said loudly in its report, clearly, some hugely winning ideas have no precedent, cannot be predicted, and will never be approved by the cowardly and risk avers.” And the group set a stake in the ground identifying game console music creation as just such an idea.
In 2008, there’s precedence aplenty telling us that musical experiences on game consoles have a market. Many “music participation” games exist, some in their second or third generations, though the vast majority stops well short of being a truly creative experience; more specifically, these games don’t help the home musician/composer spontaneously create new music. We don’t yet know exactly what a new generation of creative products will look like, but the potential is clear—certainly there’s potential for more than using music in a pattern matching game the player follows along (singing or “playing” an instrument) to someone else’s music. When the products eventually appear, millions of people will live somewhat happier, more creative lives, and some companies will enjoy success selling a product that brings more joy to the world than a boxed rock.
Our mission in life
The recent successes of games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero now leave us optimistic that the notion of a game controller as a musical instrument may be even larger than the
The Supporting Truths
The ground is already well plowed and richly fertilized, ready to plant the seed of a new generation of creative products. More innovative games using music having only just arrived, like Lips, Sing Star, Guitar Hero World Tour, etc. New developments in existing franchises like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have broadened the scope beyond “pattern matching” play to actual musical training; even so, they still fall far short of a spontaneously creative experience.
Key market factors affect the likelihood of success:
There may be a few problems in carving out an entirely new market segment in home entertainment, but a lack of people with compatible baseline equipment is not one of them. (Many past BarBQ participants work for companies that already sell products to musicians with dedicated studios and desktop computers…this is a different market opportunity with different application marketing requirements.) Success with a new generation of create products may be easier to achieve if it builds on the success of Guitar Hero and Rock Band and the musical controllers they’ve put in millions of hands.Game consoles install bases
[Note that we’ve chosen not to break copyright and re-post proprietary sales reports that may be available to our companies.)
According to certain Wikipedia pages that quote sources, by approximately 4th Quarter 2008 there were, worldwide:
Nice, big, sweet target market
Required Platforms and Peripherals are Collocated
Consoles: not just for breakfast anymore
Current generation "game" consoles are quite capable running applications that help people make and experience music in their homes. In many cases, these systems are more powerful than the computing equipment audio professionals used less than ten years ago for multitrack music production in recording studios.Especially if developers sensibly bound the feature set, authoring and music making apps can run well (and stably) on two of the major consoles using host and co-processors for running input, user interface and audio processing tasks.
Sony PlayStation 3
Microsoft Xbox 360
Why aren't consoles used to make music?
We happily left many tough questions unanswered (even more unasked). Among the topics:
Moral of the Story:
There are a lot of people who like making their own music and they’re willing to buy products that help them achieve creative satisfaction and bring them pure enjoyment. The moral from 2004 still applies, and still represents an untapped opportunity:
We have the Technology. We can make consoles better than they were before.
select a section:
Copyright 2000-2014, Fat Labs, Inc., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED