Rocksmith is an interesting game. The use-a-real-guitar music title from Ubisoft has garnered some less-than-stellar review, with a combined meta-critic score of 77 percent. but some outlets really liked the game -- check out G4's 4 out 5 Rocksmith review. So why the mixed notices? According to Ubisoft, the game's publisher, some of the game's negative review scores are because Rocksmith is innovative, and some reviewers don't want innovation.
"As much as they claim they want innovation, they don't," says Ubisoft's Laurent Detoc. "What I see when I read the reviews is a lack of enthusiasm for something that is new. … We, as human beings, tend to like what we know. But more importantly, we call ourselves gamers. Are we gamers – or players?"
At first glance, it looks like Detoc is blaming critics for bad reviews (a silly tactic, at best), but dig a little deeper, and Detoc's remarks point out something very interesting that's happening in our industry. As the "base" of gamers broadens with more consumers coming on board, reviewers may need to look at things a little differently. Also, as games themselves become more ubiquitous and worm their way into more areas of our lives, our idea of what a game is (and whether it "succeeds or fails") may need a little expansion as well.
"There are different types of entertainment experiences for different people and different appetites for quality," Detoc says. "For example, today when you watch The Price is Right on TV, it's free and supported by advertising. The actors in that show are mainly people like you and I, and the cost is somewhat low... Compare that to wanting to go see, say, Tintin with your wife on date night. You're going to pay for the movie tickets and parking. Maybe there's a babysitter involved. You may want to go to dinner. By the time it's done, it's a $200 night -- but it's a different entertainment experience. That, to me, is like what's happening with consoles versus other types of play. It depends on what you want to do as an entertainment experience."
Our reviewer, J.P. Shub, is both a video game aficionado and a guitarist, and his review was largely written in terms of Rocksmith as an aid to learning guitar, which is clearly the "game's" intention. Learning an instrument is not inherently fun in the way that shooting pretend aliens is... so how can it be judged on the same scale on which you'd judge Space Invaders?