Guitar Hero TV is like a playable version of classic MTV

You could say the franchise was in Dire Straits


“This gets music videos back on the TV,” says Jamie Jackson, the Creative Director of Freestyle Games. The bearded and tattooed exec is showing Guitar Hero TV, or GHTV, the banner online multiplayer mode for Guitar Hero Live, his studio’s reboot of the plastic instruments franchise. Jackson had already demonstrated the game’s bizarre first-person, full-motion video story mode, which also features multiplayer, but this, you could sense, will be the game’s legacy — should it rekindle the genre’s mega popularity upon release this fall.

Read more: What you need to know about Guitar Hero Live

Guitar Hero TV is what the name implies: a series of "music video television channels" available to all players on its network. The difference between this and MTV, of course, is that the music videos are playable. So say you’re on a channel, and a curated show of pop music videos is playing with a traditional highway of notes, a la every other Guitar Hero game. You would immediately be competing on that song with everyone else watching and playing the same channel. Each channel will have its own set of different programs dedicated to different music, with the hope being players will discover songs and artists outside their comfort zone.

The mode is like a playable version of classic mtv

Jackson and his team believe the absence of friction between the player and this centerpiece mode will be key. To hop into Guitar Hero TV, the player need only tap a button on the plastic guitar (it looks like a little box) and they’re instantly playing on a channel. Tap that button again, and a TV guide-like menu appears, offering additional channels, each with its own unique programming. Tap that button one more time, and a list of songs available On Demand appears. More than one player will be able to play the mode locally, though the developer wouldn't comment on the inclusion of additional plastic instruments like bass and drums.

All of this, Jackson says, comes with the purchase of Guitar Hero Live. For $99, you get the game, the guitar, GuitarHero TV’s many channels, and the freedom to play On Demand songs. Now, if you have played a modern video game, you’re probably wondering where the catch is. During the demo, following a song's completion, a player was awarded a high score along with XP and gold coins — the latter the sign of some sort of monetization structure. But Actvision’s Senior Director of Product Management Tyler Michaud assures us that everything we saw is free — with the initial purchase of course. When pressed for clarification, Michaud said we’ll have to wait for E3.

Guitar Hero tv comes with the purchase of guitar hero live

Music videos will span the major genres. In the demo, we saw Ed Sheeran, Jake Bugg, Royal Blood, and Of Monsters and Men. The videos are the same you see on YouTube, not custom videos created just for the game a la a karaoke parlor’s music videos.

On the left side of each music video, a bar will track your score in relation to your online friends, along with the rest of the folks playing that channel at that moment. It’s not unlike hopping into a shooter really, where a game has already begun without you. Except the total number of players competing at the same time is likely to be magnitudes larger.

Michaud says Activision is working to include the entirety of Guitar Hero Live, including GHTV, in the tablet version of the game, which will be sold in stores in its own box alongside the console options, and will somehow connect your guitar and tablet to your television (Wait until E3, they say). Pressed one last time about the cost, Michaud assures us Guitar Hero TV isn’t a subscription service. Instead, he calls it a "living thing" and "where the business is at."

"There’s no plan right now to put out a new disc next year," Michaud says. "We can bring you new music and new content in this continually updating way."