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Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more

Within a week of Guitar Hero II being released, DLC was put up. We knew it was coming, but was the price really justifiable? After all, 500 MS Points for three songs seems excessive, to say the least, and I don’t even have the game. Major Nelson seems to think that, given the work involved with the songs, the prices are fair. He also talks on Sony and Halo 3 to Joystiq, of which the whole thing can be read after the jump.

Courtesy of Joystiq:

When you were putting up the story at 2AM, were you expecting such a negative response from fans?

Major Nelson: Well, I found out about it late last night, before I posted it. I looked at it and said “okay.” But you have to remember, I used to work in the broadcasting industry and in music for a long time and I know that content is not linear. It’s not like you go to iTunes, and you’re buying the same thing. There’s testing that’s involved, and there’s also licensing involved. There’s a lot of elements involved. When there’s music involved, that brings up a lot of licensing issues. [pointing at camera] Kids, if you want to make a lot of money, write music. Write the hits, I should say … It’s roughly about $2 a song that you can play over and over. You can’t get interactivity with a song on iTunes, and I don’t want to defend it: it is what it is. We worked with Red Octane to work on prices that make sense, and they clearly can’t sell it at a loss. They have to pay the rights licensing.

But weren’t the development costs already taken care of for the PS2 version?

MN: But you can’t look at it that way, it’s a different platform. You have to consider the Leaderboard. People like to say it’s the same, but the licensing is not the same. You have to re-license it. It’s a different platform. While on the surface it may look fairly simplistic, and people are saying “XYZ should be done,” but we’re not Red Octane. I work for Microsoft, and we’re just the conduit at this point.

One commenter pointed out that if all the old songs of the original PlayStation 2 version were released on Xbox Live, it would cost significantly more than simply buying both Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II on the PS2. People feel flustered by that. Why are we paying more for old content?

MN: Once again, it’s not old content. The contracts have to be renegotiated on a new platform, and it’s also involving digital distribution, so there’s a lot of things involved.

So what about Red Octane? Are they coming to you, saying the game’s been out for a week–time to bring out new content?

MN: Well, Red Octane listens to what their customers want. I can’t speak on behalf of them, unfortunately. I do know that they have some really aggressive plans to release more content. I don’t know what their pricing schedule’s going to be. I just don’t know. I do know that they’ve made comments in the past, saying they want to release more content.

Microsoft has always said it’s the gamer’s choice, especially when it comes to things like the HD-DVD drive, and the hard drive. Why is it that we’re forced to download three songs at once? To get a Bad Religion song, we have to get Red Hot Chili Peppers as well. Isn’t this actually taking away the choice from gamers?

MN: We’ve talked about what it takes to get content onto Marketplace. You guys know: it has to be processed, it has to be developed. Is it easier to process one song and release it and would have it to be more expensive? Or can you take some of that development, bundle it together, and drop the price down. All those songs have to go through that process. If you have three songs entering the approval process, individually, that’s three times more problems–and there’s more probability for error. So, let’s bundle them together, and test them as a unit and drive the price down.

So let’s say we’re in a fantasy world. How much would an individual song cost?

MN: Once again, I can’t comment because I’m not making those individual deals.

Let’s talk about the upcoming Spring Update. These updates are very different from Sony’s approach, which come on a much more frequent basis.

MN: Well, let me ask you, which approach do you like better? [Discussion ensues.] At Microsoft, we deal very strongly with publishers. Because of the way we integrate with the games, we have to let our publishers know what updates are coming, 6 or 7 months before, so they can work them into the games. Our experience is so tied into what you’re doing in the game. Your Friends List is always there, regardless of what game you play. So, it’s a lot of work we have to do with our publishers, so that they can integrate what we’re doing in a really holistic fashion.

The competition between PS3 and Xbox 360 has been great for gamers. One of the more significant upgrades coming up in the Spring Update is support for MPEG-4 and h.264, something Sony has been touting for a long time.

MN: Yeah, we want to take the best feedback and see what are the things that we can do. I don’t want to say easy but will make the most impact. One of things people have been begging for is multi-party chat. We’re working on a couple of things, and we know there are a certain things that people want and that’s what we’re going to do. Sony and Microsoft take very different approaches. Ours is a lot more predictable–you know there’s going to be an update in the Spring, in the Fall. We have an ongoing conversation with our audience.

The other big topic on people’s minds is Halo 3. The public beta is coming out May 16th.

MN: Once again, I hate doing this. But, Bungie’s doing their own thing–they do not tell me anything. We’re just a partner in crime. They tell us what they’re doing, and we make sure we can provide from the Live service perspective. It’s their product, they create the rules for their product. They’re running the beta, they’re running everything.

Some fans have been complaining that three weeks is just too short for a beta.

MN: Well, I guess I hate to be a cop-out, but I’d say “go ask Bungie.” If I were them, I would that three weeks is plenty of time to run a beta. I don’t even know when their release is. They have to have enough time to take all that feedback and get it into the final product.

Will Xbox Live be able to handle the beta? Can you promise us that it won’t break on us?

MN: I’ve been told by our Operations Director that we’ve built out–that we’re good to go.

Many have been saying that out of the big guys out there, it appears that Microsoft has the biggest involvement with the community.

MN: Xbox Live is a living, breathing environment with over 6 million people on it. It’s like the dial tone. You pick it up and there’s always something going on. That’s one of the reasons why I exist. We really wanted a dialogue with the community and go out and meet people like yourselves. To talk to the people that are reading this–you guys have some really great ideas. We take that feedback, and we love the excitement around the product. The ladies and gentlemen that work on the product love the product. Everybody loves this product. We want to make it the very best. I’m thrilled that Sony’s coming out with new ideas that’s going to cause us to think in different ways.

We’ve talked Sony, we’ve talked Microsoft. You own a Wii yet?

MN: Yeah, I have a Wii. I got a Wii probably about two, three months ago. I happened to be at Target one day, and the gentleman I was talking to said “I can’t help you right now, we’re unloading the truck right now.” I was asking him for something else for my wife but I asked him, “You don’t have any Wiis there did you?” He said yeah, and I said “one please.” So, my wife and I play it every week. We play bowling. My wife absolutely loves Wii Play. She absolutely loves it.

Do you have a Mii? Does it look like you?
MN: She made it for me, and it does sort of look like me, but it’s not public yet. There’s no mini-Major Nelsons floating around. I’m really excited to see what the first party titles are going to look like. Some of the third-party titles I’ve seen so far haven’t really grabbed me.

It’s nice to see a Microsoft official at least being honest about things. However it still won’t satisfy the gaming public, who still feel ripped off. Perhaps it has something to do with them not knowing what is involved, and the Major at least goes some way in explaining what is required of the content.

Does this make it seem more reasonable to you? Or will you still refuse to purchase them and pray to some holy figure that the price for the next load of content will be cheaper? It’s your call.

It’s also nice to hear that the Live servers will be able to handle the massive intake of usage that will no doubt be generated when the Beta for Halo 3 goes Live in May. It would be pretty shoddy of them not to have it functioning at all times. After all, not everyone wants to play a crappy Beta do they?

Thanks to Alex for submitting. Nelson talks about GH II content and more newsvine:Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more furl:Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more reddit:Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more fark:Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more Y!:Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more gamegrep:Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more

27 comments on 'Major Nelson talks about GH II content and more'

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I refuse to believe that licensing is the justification for the price of these songs. The standard game comes with over 60 licensed songs and it costs 90$ with a controller that retails for 60$.

Comment by steve perry on 2007-04-13 00:23:50 | Reply

I had been waiting for the use of that major nelson pic again

Comment by newmodel on 2007-04-13 00:24:47 | Reply

Apparently when “lots of things are involved” customers get ripped off. I mean you got licensing, and uh…licensing, and….uh…licensing, so the songs are really expensive because when you got licensing, theres a lot involved. Christ. Give me a break MS. Pathetic…

I agree with you, except for the “MS” part. That should be replaced with “Red Octane”.

Comment by Unmutual on 2007-04-13 00:26:56 | Reply

Just sounds like a whole lot of poor excuses. Especially regarding the bundling of three tracks together. Must try harder!

I dont think there is much honesty here… First he’s defending what they did, and then he is unable to say what “a fair price” would be.

Typical PR nonsense if you ask me.

MS has been duping everyone with this marketplace crap, and more people should have seen it coming.


Comment by Retodon8 on 2007-04-13 01:09:33 | Reply

How can “the gaming public [..] feel ripped off”?
Like you said, it’s not like anybody has to buy anything.
They bought the game, knew which songs were included, knew what amount of money they had to pay, and that’s the end of the deal.
Sure, RO mentioned downloadable content, but I don’t think they ever mentioned prices, but even if, developers say lots of things they end up not being able to make happen.
I can definately understand people being angry, sad, whatever about a high price (I had negative thoughts about the horse armour for a game I don’t even play myself), and I can understand some people don’t believe the reasons given, but unless I’m missing something, nobodt has a right to feel ripped off.
People these days expect too much for nothing in return.

The problem with this is that the DLC was a big selling point for the game, and a many people who own the game for the PS2 bought the 360 version as well with expectation of regular, reasonably priced downloads.

Comment by Worms on 2007-04-13 01:14:20 | Reply

I was playing last night and my wife mentioned that she didn’t think $2 a song was bad and that I should buy them. Ended up paying the $12.50 for packs #2 and #3. I think they should have just put the whole GH1 sound track out for $20-$30 complete but they’ll make a lot more money this way.

Comment by mass9 on 2007-04-13 01:45:01 | Reply


Comment by OMG on 2007-04-13 02:50:04 | Reply

Keep whining people, I have downloaded trhe extra songs, played the living crap out of them, and will continue to since I suick at har and expert. Well worth the money when you think of the 1000+ hours I will spend trying to perfect them, you people suck..I want this I want that…give it up and enjoy the box….and for you sony fans you still suck….

Comment by Worms on 2007-04-13 03:04:45 | Reply

I don’t feel bad paying for the two packs I bought the songs are good additions. My complaint is that they don’t just release single songs for $2 and let us pick and choose which ones we want.

Comment by coojo on 2007-04-13 04:32:27 | Reply

cool major nelson is a wii60

Comment by Darkhosis on 2007-04-13 04:59:58 | Reply

another thought to consider is for me, ive played a few songs on GH2 on my 360 and said ” Hey I want to know what that songs sounds like without me fudging it up, i’ll go buy it off zune marketplace or itunes or for old times sake at the record store. The sales for some of the albums that some of these songs are on has to have gone up and I think it will continue. Makes me think that perhaps we shouldn’t need to pay for the advertisement of music me might buy for real. p.s. i have a friend who thinks MS points grow on trees so i just goto his house and play stuff that nets me no additional gamerpoints. and btw that brings to mind, what happened to additional content and additional gamerpoints as they raised the max to 1250 only one game has coughed it up. And its nice to know that people have been asking for group voice chat since launch of 360 and we “might” get it 4 or 5 updates later. not trying to be a stick in the mud but atleast tease us don’t leave us in the dark so long. hell we have been waiting 10 years or something for duke nukem forever haha we will wait if you promise us.

Comment by BruNasty on 2007-04-13 10:35:38 | Reply

Damn these capitalistic corporations for wanting to make money and succeed! What the hell are they thinking?

Nelson’s right, you’re not buying a iTunes song, you are buying essentially a new dimension to the game, I don’t play this game, I prefer the real instrument, but you aren’t just listening to the song, animations, and other coding and testing went into these downloads.
If your parents won’t buy it, or you can’t afford it with your part time job from dairy queen then don’t get it.

If theres one thing I hate more than microsoft-apologetic-fanboy-lapdogs, its microsoft-apologetic-fanboy-lapdogs that like to hop on a major nelson train after he’s defended the bending over and raping of gamers that just want to have fair prices.

You people that keep sayin “its just a buck” are gonna be the damn ones complaining in 5 years when you have to pay 5 bucks for each level of a game that you can beat in 10 mins.

You guys are the ones contributing to the downfall of gaming here.

Because whether you are too dense to figure it out or not, that’s exactly what this is devolving into.

Keep defending a multibillion dollar corporations influence on gaming. That’s really intelligent.

Comment by newmodel on 2007-04-13 16:44:12 | Reply


Comment by Phocas on 2007-04-13 17:58:51 | Reply

Bullshit. The Market drive the price of gaming. If you can’t handle it then GTFO of next gen gaming. You can get a cheap PS2 anytime you want.

Comment by Darkhosis on 2007-04-13 17:12:49 | Reply

Brunasty I’m all for capitalism and businesses succeeding. But there is a differences between a company making a reasonable profit and a company trying to squeeze every spare cent it can from its customers with no regard for customer satisfaction. We are afterall the source of the companies revenue and everyonce in a while a little customer appreciation goes a long way. Yes XBox LIve has free gold weekends for the customers who haven’t signed up for it but what about the loyal gold customers who have been with it from the first day they got their 360. It’s just like the issue surrounding the epic game gears of war and how we were PROMISED never to have to pay for dlc for this game. Microsoft jumped in there and say to epic “You may not want to charge your 5mill+ fans who paid 60$” but we are making you. (gets out calculator)holy shit that is 300 million in sales for gears of war prior to the dlc. I’m not sure what the profit margin is for that total but I bet its more than the amount microsoft is charging for the dlc. And who are we? just the customers shelling out more money. Nobody important, no one worth showing any appreciation to saying you know what even though we are making a decent amount of money for all the games and xbox live memberships, accessories that don’t even work properly(cough wireless mic cough) we are gonna make you pay for every little possible thing we can with no regards on how you feel about it. Now i don’t disagree with everything we pay for on xbox live, infact there are quite a few things I specifically enjoy about the marketplace. Shivering isles is a huge add on for oblivion, video marketplace is great although I don’t see why HD content still has letterbox bars. But that could be the morons formatting the movie incorrectly. And I don’t think that add ons for all games should be free. Songs for guitar hero should have some cost to offset conversion but paying for a song that the only way we can listen to it is when we are hacking it up on GH2 does not a MUSIC purchase make, its a part of a game. If I could transfer this song to my zune or ipod or other mp3 player or even play it in my dashboard outside of the game then yeah that makes sense but thats not an option. You can’t sell me an orange and make me believe its an apple. And my god, imagine what microsoft will do once sony goes the way of the dodo because they can’t provide entertaining games(merely speculation sorry to sony fanboys its just my opinion) feel free to have a different opinion than I do about all of this and my dairy queen paycheck will not be going to pay for music for gh2 that i can pay 79 points each for on zune marketplace and play while im serving dilly bars at the DQ part time. And fix my damn wireless mic Microsoft.

Comment by Warzin on 2007-04-13 19:14:55 | Reply

Then do that. But stop telling everyone how to spend their MS points. You buy your games I buy mine. Your reasons are not my reasons.

But I’m missing the point forums are for moaning
/ slaps head

Comment by Worms on 2007-04-13 19:19:45 | Reply

Don’t know if this has been mentioned either but these are not unlock code downloads. The packs were about 30 megs a piece.

Comment by Darkhosis on 2007-04-13 21:00:03 | Reply

Warzin not once in my entire post did I tell anyone else how to spend their points. Incase you didn’t notice everyone is entitled to post their opinions and thoughts about any topic hence the option for comments. And to you personally before trying to piss all over someones opinion read the post.

Comment by Warzin on 2007-04-13 21:05:10 | Reply

The comment was aimed at Jmel not you.

Comment by Darkhosis on 2007-04-13 21:12:26 | Reply

apologies then warzin :)

Comment by Warzin on 2007-04-13 21:18:42 | Reply

No probs. But the thing that wrong about most forums is that people never celebrate what’s good about gaming but only what’s wrong or not to their liking. Positive feedback works too. Learn to enjoy your hobby it’s more a privilege than you might think.

Comment by OMG on 2007-04-13 22:09:47 | Reply

Points grow on trees…huh darkhosis…come over and I will kick your ass…haha

Comment by Darkhosis on 2007-04-13 22:13:28 | Reply

omg can’t even post under his real gamertag haha i’ll come over there and kick your ass then kiss on your wife while you sit there whining about your corrupted harddrive and stupid lamp on your tv

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