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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

Gibson Gone Wild

Posted by zergwatch Thursday March 27 2008 at 11:27AM
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My gaming article for the day is not about MMORPG's, but hope you enjoy anyway:

Gibson and Activision have had a long and mutually prospering relationship until recently. Activision sold the Guitar Hero video game and Gibson earned royalties by having their products and brands featured prominently in Guitar Hero.

Everything was going good until Activision decided they do not need Gibson products in their game. It is a move that went unnoticed, but a move that may cheapen future Guitar Hero products. Many avid guitar enthusiasts eyes were drawn to Guitar Hero by Gibson replica guitar controllers. If I was to ever play Guitar Hero, which I'm fairly certain I won't, because I prefer to play my real Gibson guitar on a real amp with a real band, I would definitely want a Les Paul style guitar controller.  I would never dream of playing Guitar Hero on some no-frills design or even a Fender design.

Unfortunately, this is a business and there's no room for nostalgia or personal preference. Activision sought to increase their bottom line on the Guitar Hero franchise and cutting Gibson's royalties in future titles.  Gibson branding was a line item they could live without.

When Gibson caught wind of this, they immediately claimed Patent Infringement on a 1999 patent where a guitar player can plug his real life Gibson Guitar into some form of virtual reality headset plugged into some unknown video entertainment system and played with a virtual band. It's not quite Guitar Hero, since non real instruments are necessary or even possible and there's no VR headset that ties you into a virtual concert.

The patents are similar, but in my consumer opinion, they are different enough where they don't infringe on each other. While the Gibson suit has a tiny shred of merit, the driving force behind these suits boils down to sour grapes on Gibson's part. For years, they supported and embraced Guitar Hero. Now that they have been kicked out of the club, they want revenge.

Not only do they want revenge, Gibson is set on taking as many people down with them as possible. First they sued Harmonix, the makers of Rock Band, then they went on to sue major retailers for selling Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

Gibson could be treading on shaky ground with the consumer population with these lawsuits. They are attacking something gamers hold dear and close to their hearts. As a life long supporter of Gibson products, I think they are also tarnishing their reputation. Had Gibson filed these suits when the first Rock Band product was announced years ago, I think they would have been completely in the right from a legal and public relations standpoint.

However, their revenge based campaign against an entire industry down to the retailer just paints a very ugly portrait of a company that had seemed to grown out of their frivolously litigatious and contentious past.

Giddian writes:

Their Patent Doe's refer to Instruments, Seeing as how Guitar hero and Rock band Contains NO instruments, Only Controllers, the Patent doesn’t apply. Not to mention by using controllers the resemble the real instruments only spark the interest of the game player to try their hand at a REAL Instrument.

It's a Win, Win Situation

Thu Mar 27 2008 11:43AM Report writes:
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