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Guitar Hero Live nixes traditional DLC in favor of pay-per-play streaming

Developer Freestyle Games revealed its plans for Guitar Hero Live‘s add-on content this week, announcing that players can use in-game cash to stream new songs on demand.

The strategy veers away from the DLC-focused approach adopted by previous entries in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, which required players to pay for individual song downloads. Guitar Hero Live‘s structure eliminates one-time purchases entirely, instead placing its add-on content behind a paywall that demands payment for every play.

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Guitar Hero Live‘s GHTV mode offers playable versions of hundreds of songs from many featured artists, all of which are accessed via cloud streaming. The service will offer curated channels of themed content that are playable for free, and feature new artists and songs a regular basis.

By playing these featured tracks, players will earn in-game cash that can then be used to purchase individual play sessions for other songs in the GHTV library. In-game currency can also be purchased with real-world cash. After each session with an off-channel GHTV track, players will need to pay every time they want to stream the song again.

“We’re revamping how typical DLC works,” Freestyle Games reports. “We looked long and hard at the way it used to be in past music games – you pay a few bucks for a song to add to your library. It’s a big financial commitment up front and a tough decision to make, and it has always left me feeling like I have to replay that song until I’m bored of it to get my money’s worth. But it’s a different time now.”

Freestyle Games likens its approach to streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. In addition to paying for individual plays, users can also purchase a party pass that grants unlimited play of all GHTV tracks for a limited time.

Rock Band 4, which launches this week for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, retains its series-standard DLC store that offers more than 2,000 add-on songs at $2 apiece. Tracks purchased in previous versions of Rock Band will also carry over to the new series entry at no charge. Guitar Hero Live offers no such option for players who purchased DLC in legacy Guitar Hero games.

In addition to its pay-for-play GHTV mode, Guitar Hero Live also includes a “GH Live” mode that gives players unlimited sessions with dozens of on-disc songs. Guitar Hero Live launches for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and mobile platforms on October 20.