Electronic Arts COO John Pleasants weighed in on the ongoing music game battle between Rock Band and Guitar Hero, also stating that he believes the segment is here to stay -- and hinting at future internal EA development.
"They're both big behemoths," Pleasants said of Harmonix's and Neversoft's franchises to the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.
He particularly revealed that "...in calendar year '08, Rock Band 1 was, I believe the leading music SKU across all platforms and Rock Band 2 was the highest-quality product with a 92 Metacritic."
"Guitar Hero did have fantastic results as well," he admitted, then reminded the audience of the upcoming Harmonix-developed Beatles title, due to be released in 2009, which he said "we think is going to be a great business force this year."
Pleasants is bullish on music in games, citing "pretty good penetration" among consumers of "plastic guitars and drum sets" while also warning that "there's a lot of plastic in the market right now."
Going forward, the genre won't be just about Rock Band versus Guitar Hero, he predicts. "When we look back five years, the fantasy of being a rock star by punching the buttons that are flowing down the screen is going to be one implementation in what is going to be a very large category," he predicted.
"There are lots of other things you can do with music, and we're working on interesting things, and we know our competition is working on interesting things."
Regarding that comment, the COO was pressed as to whether Electronic Arts plans to develop more internal music games.
"We're not in any position to announce anything," he replied, adding, "I think it's a robust category. Over the coming years, there will hopefully be lots of things we will do in the music category."
He concluded: "We're pretty happy with our relationship with Harmonix; we're proud of it, and we think it's doing really well."