Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your Squier Comments

Interesting e-mail that touches on several facets of the Squier era, which (sadly) did not last very long.

First, from Brian Witte:
So I actually bought a Fender Squier for Rock Band...and took it back 3 weeks later. I was hoping to use it to learn to play guitar, but it was just an awful experience. The plinking of the muted strings felt fake, and the guitar was out of tune with the mute down (I could tune the open strings, but the fretted notes were off. Plus, the open strings wouldn't even stay in tune for 2 songs in a row) I ended up buying a real guitar for roughly the same price. I've, um, stalled a bit on learning, but at least I can recognize the chords I try to strum. I really wish the Squier had worked better. I'd been looking forwards to it since it was announced.

My experience with the Squier was certainly better than Brian's, but it's absolutely true that nothing felt quite right when the string mute was engaged. Like I said, it was incredibly ambitious for Harmonix to try this, and while it's entirely amazing that they brought a product to market (and created an entire instructional guide to learning, essentially), the Frankenstein effect meant that it was a real guitar, but it wasn't--it had all the parts, but they didn't quite work together as well as we'd hoped.

Neil Yamamoto had this to say:
I still think the major problem with the release of RB3 was the complete lack of hardware support at launch. No MIDI controllers, no Squiers in stores at release - and it took months before they were available. Months! Blown opportunity.

That's true. Harmonix wanted to get out of the peripheral business, and they did, but the partners they chose didn't seem to hold up their end of the bargain.

Also, the lack of retail support was brought up by Cory Birdsong, and I think it's an excellent point:
The situation is highly unfortunate, but the Squier is the expensive niche of an expensive, difficult niche, and it really needed some retail care that it did not receive. Harmonix signed Best Buy as the exclusive retail partner for the Squire, and my local Best Buy took their two units and shoved them in a pile of guitar boxes in the far-out-of-the-way musical instrument aisle. I had to search to even find that they were there, and I already knew what the Squier was.

This is not obviously a recipe for a successful product, and they probably would've done far better had they had consoles set up in Guitar Center, where the average salesperson could probably play the guitar and show people how Pro Mode works.

Here's the problem: whether it was Best Buy or Guitar Center or Wal-Mart, Harmonix needed a retail partner that was enthusiastic about the product. They needed a 100% partner that would evangelize for the product. Instead, it seems that everyone they partnered with was 100% half-ass.

I don't know how the math works on that, but it can't be good.

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