Yesterday, I spoke with former Microsoft vice president Ed Fries shortly before his session at The Ayzenberg Group's [A] List Summit. I already posted his assessment on how the "big three" console companies are faring, but I wanted to share this excellent story about how Fries was indirectly responsible for Guitar Hero. Apparently Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos pitched Microsoft on the game that would become Frequency. Fries turned it down and offered some extremely valuable advice. Fries told me:
"I ran into Alex Rigopulos a few years ago and he was joking with me about when we passed on his title FreQ
, which was before Guitar Hero
and Rock Band
. He said, 'I don't know if you remember, but you met with me and turned us down. You said that nobody would ever buy a music-rhythm game that doesn't have a custom piece of hardware attached to it. So I took your word and did this Guitar Hero
thing and it worked out great!' [laughs]
I said, 'Well thanks for that. Thanks for giving me some amount of credit for that. I wish we had actually signed you and done it.' [laughs] Obviously, those games were enormous for the business."
were great games, but they didn't set the world on fire in terms of sales, so I can understand why Fries turned Rigopulos down at the time. While nobody could have predicted the huge boom in music games at that time, I'm sure this is one of Microsoft's big "What if?" scenarios. It's totally cool that Fries can laugh about it in retrospect.
Microsoft having Guitar Hero as a first-party exclusive...how crazy would that have been?