Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rocksmith Saves the Economy!

I bought Rocksmith in 2011 as a direct result of a working display set up in my local Guitar Center. To recap the story, while I went in to look at some drum stuff my kids played around on the Rocksmith set-up in the middle of the store. When we got home, my son picked up the Squier Strat that had been gathering dust in his room and started playing Satisfaction just like he learned it on Rocksmith. As a result, I bought a copy of Rocksmith AND a brand new XBox 360 for our family Christmas present that very year. That was just the beginning of the spending.

Almost immediately after that I bought a second RealTone cable so my kids and I could play Multiplayer mode together. Soon, naturally, we needed new strings for all of our guitars. After a few weeks of hours-long RS sessions, I needed a better (i.e. wider and more padded) strap. Or two.

When the XBox wasn't being used for Rocksmith, we started buying and playing other XBox games. We bought an extra wireless controller and a programmable controller (because I didn't like the way some games mapped the controls). And a charger/storage rack, of course.

Then the DLC songs started coming out. So far we've bought about 35 of those. In anticipation of the Bass Expansion Pack, I bought a used Yamaha bass from GC. Then I bought the Bass Expansion Pack. I bought Rocksmith for PC at a bargain price. Now I've bought the 2014 version at full retail price, although it's on sale right now for $49.99 (check date of this post before rushing out to buy. . . ).

GAS (guitar acquisition syndrome) really kicked in. The guys at my local Guitar Center knew me by name. I didn't buy a new guitar right away, but I bought a pile of used ones. Not just from GC, either. When I say "a pile," I mean like over a dozen. I started trolling online auction sites where I found my Yamaha Strat copy and case (two separate auction items, but the seller combined shipping). I took the Yamaha straight to T.Sheppard's guitar shop for a set-up and ultimately a new neck. Once I bought a six-pack of guitars as a single lot from an online auction. Shipping on that one cost me a bundle (which I almost made back by selling off a couple of the six guitars). I donated one of the acoustics to my church for a music education program. A handful of First Act guitars were bought on other auction sites and most of those require shipping.

Then there was the scratch n' dent PRS Tremonti SE, followed by an Ibanez Artcore semi-hollow body and a Gretsch Electromatic semi-hollow body (both used). Last summer I bought two new guitars in one day - an inexpensive Ibanez acoustic to drag around to softball tournaments and a sweet Epiphone LP Special with P90 pickups for a very sweet price (i.e. under $100). I found my used MIM Fender Tele at the GC store. That's also where I recently found my Michael Kelly Valor. The same day I bought the Vapor, my son bought a used cammo-painted Ibanez with a case.

Eventually I got to a point where I wanted to start playing more off-line. So, I got a brand new Peavey Vyper modeling amp from Musicians Friend. Later I found a used Carvin bass amp and a ginormous bass speaker cabinet which took up entirely too much room at the house. That rig got traded back to GC for a more reasonably sized Fender Rumble bass amp. The Peavey and a very old Crate bass amp that I bought years ago got traded in on a Vox AC15.

Apart from strings and straps, there were stands and wall hangers. I got my daughter a new strap for Christmas last year. One of my her softball team's favorite songs required a slide. And a capo. So, I bought those. Somewhere along the line I picked up an acoustic pick-up (which I've never used but it was on clearance). When I finally settled on a favorite strap, I wanted to be able to quickly swap the good strap to any one of my several guitars, so I invested in some Dunlop Strap-Loks and several sets of buttons. I also tried a set of Loxx (which are very nice but pricey compared to Strap-Loks) on the bass. Then there were the tab books, a couple of other books, and several DVDs. Not to mention all the MP3s I've bought from Amazon so I could listen to Rocksmith songs at work and (try to) memorize them.

The only thing I haven't bought is picks. I play with a pick. But, more often than not, when I buy a used guitar there are several picks in the case. Plus, I have a bowl full of Guitar Center picks. I pick up a new one just about every time I go into the store. I'd take some back but I tend to put them in my mouth between songs. Which, now that I think about it, makes me really, really hope that nobody else ever brings their GC picks back to the store, either. . . Ick.

All in all, I have personally thrown at least a few thousand dollars into the economy over the past two years as a direct result of Rocksmith. No wonder I'm always broke. Yet, despite the fact that much of this money was funneled through Guitar Center coffers, I haven't seen Rocksmith in my local GC store since we bought our first copy in 2011. In fact, while the original Rocksmith seemed closely tied to both Guitar Center and Gibson/Epiphone, there's no mention of either company in Rocksmith 2014 and it seems GC doesn't even sell Rocksmith any more.

I see ads for Rocksmith on my Internet browser, but I'm continually amazed at how many guitar owners have still never even heard of Rocksmith. What's the deal? Rocksmith should be more of a household name than Guitar Hero by now! Why isn't it?

I smell a conspiracy! More later.


  1. I wonder if they switched distributors or something. When I tried to get the original Rocksmith, or anything related to it, from Gamestop, they couldn't even order it, and got kind of belligerent when I asked why. I ended up buying it from Target. Then, when I tried to get RS2014 at Target, they didn't have it, and they didn't offer it online. I checked with Gamestop, and they had it in-store. It seems like Ernie Ball is something of a sponsor for 2014 as well.

    And agreed that Rocksmith is definitely good for the guitar / video game economy. I've bought tons of strings, picks, etc. since I started playing.

  2. I'll have to learn a bit more about how software gets sold. One one of the very first screens you see on boot-up, the one with the pedals, there are three different corporate names: Studio SF (which may be Ubisoft's development studio in San Francisco), Red Storm Entertainment, and Longtail Something-or-Other. Then there's a whole separate screen with nothing on it except "Lightspeed." Now I'm curious as to what all those organizations are and what their involvement is with Rocksmith and Ubisoft.

    Weird about GameStop. . . not sure if I've seen RS in our GameStop or not. I know they always have tons of used Guitar Hero music packs in there. Apparently RS2014 has several "sponsors." Ernie Ball, Orange Amps, Marshall Amps and Eden Bass Amps appear on one of the slides/pages which appear during boot-up. Those all have in-game achievements. I just checked and Gibson/Epiphone actually still appear on the boot-up screen, but I still haven't noticed any mention of them in the game itself. Odd since original Rocksmith's whole guitar collecting feature was little more than a Gibson/Epiphone showroom. The old Rocksmith music store was closely tied to GC, but then there was also some sort of corporate affiliation with Best Buy at some point.

    Interesting. Seems that video games are basically marketed and produced very similar to movies now. I'm going to do some research on this subject.

  3. I believe that Lightspeed is some sort of engine that the game uses - graphics engine, or development framework or something like that. Some "tool" that the development team uses to ease development.

    Last time I was in GC (a month or so ago), they had a different "guitar teaching software" program on display. The name escapes me, but it had Slash on the cover.... Let's see what a quick google shows me... BandFuse. Maybe GC has a contract with BandFuse now, and can't sell RS. I don't know why GameStop wouldn't sell it though, unless they just don't stock it due to perceived lack of interest, or the distributor idea that was mentioned...

    1. I've heard next to nothing - and nothing good - about Band Fuse. Sounds like they made a good effort, but tried to be too "cool" with the rock videos thrown into the BandFuse software. I'm not a journalist so I don't have to even pretend to be fair and impartial, but I suppose I should at least go check out the BandFuse display (if they have one) at my local GC. Honestly, given the improvements made in RS2014 I can't imagine anything coming along that would entice me.

      I believe you're right about Gamebryo-Lightspeed. There's also some sort of audio tool-y thing mentioned on the sponsor page - but I can't remember what it's called. Seems a little odd to me that Ubisoft would promote those entities - unless they get paid for endorsing them. In which case gaming is getting not so much like the movies but more like auto racing! "Powered by Ford!"

  4. I'm sure it's part of the agreement when they license the technology - they get a spot on the intro with their name. Maybe it's even traded as part of the cost of licensing.