Guitar makers Gibson have got a major bug up their butt, and decided to sue the jeebus out of everyone and their brother this week. Those specified in various different lawsuits are the companies that make the game "Rock Band" -- Harmonix, MTV Networks and Electronic Arts -- in addition to Activision and Red Octane, for their "Guitar Hero" game. Gibson has also filed suit against retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Amazon.com, GameStop and Toys “R” Us for selling both Guitar Hero and Rock Band games.
And I thought I was the cranky one this week. I shouldn't have given up smoking crack for Lent.
The reason for the lawsuits? Well, way back in November of 1999, someone at Gibson thought it would be like, really awesome, if like, people could play instruments, but like... virtually, man. They filed a patent for the idea of a guitar playing virtual reality game, which would require "wearing a head-mounted 3-D display that includes stereo speakers."
Okay, so Guitar Hero and Rock Band don't require the dorky helmets, but the idea comes pretty close. Close enough to piss off Gibson, anyway. Perhaps that's just because the idea eventually became a success, with Guitar Hero alone reaching a sales profit over a billion dollars. What Gibson wants is for either the makers of these games to dole out a piece of the profit under a patent-use agreement -- or stop selling the games altogether.
Who knows how this will end up. Activision is counter-suing already, saying they don't need to buy patent rights from Gibson on a game that Gibson never actually produced. Personally I love Gibson guitars and would side with them anytime an ass-whooping contest was to commence, but that doesn't mean I think they're actually going to win this thing. What I do know is that Activision is already moving on the Guitar Hero: Touring Edition for the Nintendo DS. Check out the dork-filled montage below:
Kids! Tell your friends! Carpal Tunnel is all the rage! That is the most uncomfortable looking thing I have ever seen. The only thing this will teach you is how to increase your wrist strength, and I think most 13 year old boys have that figured out already.
The keypad unit plugs in to the Gameboy Advance slot on the DS, and you get a pick-shaped stylus to "strum" on one of the touch screens. No word on whether it can flip upside down for the lefties. If you're itching to play Foghat while on the go, you can pre-order it at Amazon.com for $49.99.
Also in music-simulation news, Ars Technica is reporting that the newest software update for Rock Star is tits.
The new software update allows gamers to buy new musical tracks, released weekly, without having to use the Xbox Live front end. The store is no more and no less than a full-fledged music service for Rock Band; you can browse available songs by artist, by song title, and, later, by album. ... With this new online store, and a focus on constantly adding musical content to the game, Harmonix, EA, and MTV Games have a formula for tapping into a very attractive demographic and monetizing catalog songs while popularizing upcoming music.
So beware, parents with teenagers. At first you thought it was awesome to share your love of The Allman Brothers (or, Suicidal Tendencies, for those younger parents) with your kids. But now they can download all the Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance they want, loading up the X-Box with Avril Lavigne when you're not around to explain how Glenn Danzig could kill Jared Leto in 150 different ways, using only the power of his mind.
I saved the best bit of information for last, though. In Googling for "Otto Mann pictures" I found this, the Guitar Hero controller inspired by The Simpsons:
As you can clearly see from our banner picture, Otto plays an SG, not a Flying V, but whatever, dude! It's Limited Edition! You know what that means, right? It means it's three times the cost of a regular Guitar Hero controller, of course!