Newtracks Launches Bands, a Social Guitar Hero for Facebook

By David Knight |

A social Guitar Hero for Facebook – Newtracks is hoping its first title, Bands, will catapult it to the gaming equivalent of rock stardom. The Berlin-based developer is hoping to tap into the music and social gaming markets and promises its debut will provide a “new breed” of addictive experience while also giving both established stars and up-and-coming artists the chance to make money and gain more exposure.

Players start off in a local gym and form a band with their friends. They then have to wow the crowds with their music as they work their way up from garage band to playing sold-out stadiums. Mechanics-wise, it is a matching game, with moving points – the fans – that you have to keep happy by picking the right shapes to match the moving dots. It becomes increasingly difficult as you get more successful and more fans enter your venue.

Bands builds on the likes of SingStar and Guitar Hero, and Newtracks and CPO Daniel Bock told Silicon Allee that he and his two co-founders were all particularly big fans of the latter – but they realised that it would not be engaging in the social mobile space.

He said: “We wanted to come up with a completely different mechanic that still works well when you play with music, but which is totally away from this rhythmic or even singing gameplay that Singstar has.

“People expecting Guitar Hero gameplay, they won’t find it in our game; but we think what we came up with is still awesome gameplay and really matches the music.”

The founding team created the game as part of their university thesis, but had accepted their tutors’ advice that it would be too hard to license the necessary music until they met with an enthusiastic Universal Germany. On its launch, Bands will offer just 26 tracks from 12 artists, but promises to add many more in short time.

And Daniel emphasised the benefits the game can bring to musicians, whether established stars or up-and-comers looking for more exposure of even more cash. They can license or upload directly songs to the game – players can download music via in-game purchase – and can also earn money from branded virtual goods.

They can also monitor how they are doing through live in-game charts. Players, meanwhile, can invite friends to join their band, and the music itself also drives social interaction, with a Spotify-like feature for seeing what other people are listening to.

“The music itself plays a huge part in it,” Daniel added, “and it’s also a great way to discover new songs that your friends are playing. That makes for a very sweet dynamic, we think.”

In development for 12 months, including a three-month beta period, Bands is a free-to-play official Facebook app, with in-game paid-for content. It is aimed at a younger demographic than social gaming companies like Wooga and Zynga. Its makers are hoping to carve a niche for themselves in the busy social gaming space by building on the recent success of SongPop, a music-related Facebook game without the same gameplay, and challenging the more established MXP4.

Newtracks certainly has an impressive rollcall of seed investors, including Stefan Baumschlager (Rdio, Last FM), Peter Read (Gidsy, Loopcam, EyeEm), Hendrik Lesser (rcp), Samuli Siren, Christophe Maire (Txtr, SoundCloud, Readmill), Tilman Buggenhagen, Jörn Lubkoll, Philipp Belter and Martin Sinner, part of Axel Springer‘s team in Silicon Valley.