Written by: Matt Sloan
Classic rock can sometimes seem timeless, and in some respects it may well be. U2 may just never stop playing sold-out stadiums, for instance, and it still seems hard to imagine the Rolling Stones calling it quits. People may always play and talk about groups from The Beatles to Metallica, and per previous thoughts on a performance by Guns N’ Roses at the Troubador, even Axl Rose and the boys have still got it. Maybe these guys have tapped into a certain brand of musical immortality.
At the same time though, we are no longer in an era of rock ’n’ roll, and in fact it’s hard to imagine any of those groups truly breaking through if they were just starting out today. A few years ago, a piece at Quartz quoted Tupac saying that change is “good for any of us,” and did so to mark a once-unthinkable transition: For the first time, hip-hop had become more popular than rock. That trend has continued since, and electronic music is arguably more prominent than rock in certain ways now as well.
This doesn’t mean rock is dead, and don’t let anybody tell you it might. But it does mean that the genre and its key figures have had to get creative in order to remain squarely in the public consciousness. This is done often enough through aging groups continuing to tour (as noted above) or release new music. We also seem to be seeing more documentaries and biopics about titans of rock’s multi-decade heyday. But the rock ’n’ roll preservation move that may ultimately have the widest reach is involvement in gaming.
This is something we’ve seen over the years in both console gaming and online casinos. For consoles, rock has been almost entirely behind wildly popular games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero (and their various sequels). These games managed to get a whole new generation of young people strumming fake guitars to “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” or playing the drums alongside Ringo and The Beatles. In casino gaming meanwhile, the outreach has perhaps been even more direct. Numerous iconic rock artists and groups have allowed their material to be used in the creation of original slot machine games, which are in turn featured for massive numbers of international casino gamers to enjoy.
These forays into gaming, again, are not solely responsible for keeping classic rock alive even into the 2020s. But they’ve certainly been a huge help, and that caused us to consider whether or not there may be more avenues on this front to explore.
So — does classic rock have another move to make in gaming? We’d argue yes, and even go so far as to suggest that we’ll likely see more licensed material from the glory days of rock in the following corners of the gaming industry:
For the moment, Slingo is something of a niche category of online casino gaming, nowhere near as prominent as slots. However, it may well be on the rise. Foxy Bingo, a recognized platform where various types of casino games are on offer, has made a point of emphasizing Slingo in a way other sites simply don’t do. But given that the rest of Foxy Bingo’s game selection largely involves some of the most popular slot reels on the internet (including some of the music-based ones), we’re betting the Slingo focus could spark a trend. Should this category come to rival what regular slots are today, it will inevitably attract more teems and licensing deals, and it will give rock bands and artists yet another avenue for game-based marketing.
It seems somewhat strange to include mobile gaming here, because one might assume that rock would have a presence in this space already. However, there really isn’t that much to speak of given the sheer size of the mobile arena. Sure there are a few small games here or there that dabble in rock. Additionally, games like Magic Piano allow users to play through unofficially composed versions of popular songs, including some from rock. But there really aren’t defining rock-related mobile games. One would hope that such games will eventually emerge, whether they’re more rock-oriented versions of Magic Piano or entirely random offering like an adventure arcade in which Bono or Keith Richards is beat-em-up protagonist.
VR may ultimately be the most promising medium, simply for its potential to bring about enhanced versions of the Guitar Hero experience. Already in fact, an air guitar game for the Oculus Quest more or less accomplishes this feat. It’s a game akin to Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but one in which users play music by way of hand tracking tech. Still, it feels incomplete. In time, the hope is that a VR rock game truly blows us away — giving us the experience of playing famous rock songs on stadium stages. It almost seems like a matter of time before we see such an experience, so here’s hoping.
Once again we’ll reiterate that rock is going to be fine, and quite possibly timeless, even in the face of hip-hop and EDM. But the gaming world has already helped the genre to remain relevant in some circles, and it’s interesting to consider how much more could be accomplished in the space.