Ars Technica has an article up about why DJ Hero has flopped. (122K copies sold, across 4 platforms)
It’s an OK article — but painful to read in its cluelessness. Cluelessness which, in fact, demonstrates the biggest point that it misses in discussing why the game has failed to appeal to the largely white upper-middle-class console gaming audience. That point: Cultural disconnect.
The closest they get to pointing out the obvious is where they say “You don’t know any of these songs” — pointing out that the games “credibility may hurt it — including artists like Afrika Bambaataa may excite hip-hop fans, but that’s not a name that’s going to energize every gamer who sees it on the back of the box in a game store.” Which is a bit like saying that including Wayne Rooney on a FIFA cover means nothing to people who aren’t soccer fans — the correct response to which (after Duh, I mean) is to point out that non-fans are not the target audience.
…and here we have the problem. The target audience for DJ Hero — fans of turntablism and hip-hop — are not largely present in the core audience for console games, mostly for socioeconomic reasons.
I mean, hell — the entire development of turntables and samples as instruments, the entire creation of DJ culture and hip-hop as a fucking GENRE was spurred by poverty and using what you had at hand to make music. Using old records on turntables because you had them, because going out and buying musical instruments was *expensive*.
Ars Technica (and the makers of the game, for that matter), appear to either forgotten that, or never knew it in the first place. Now, watching AT stumble over itself trying to understand why the game didn’t fly off the shelves is more than just painful in its avoidance of the obvious…