From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cover art
Developer(s)Ubisoft San Francisco[3]
Director(s)Paul Cross
Producer(s)Nao Higo
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
ReleasePlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Rocksmith is a music video game produced by Ubisoft, released in October 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms in North America. Rocksmith was released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 during September 2012 in Australian[1] and European markets[3][4] and October 2012 in Japan. A Windows version was released on October 16, 2012, after several delays. The game's main feature is that, unlike other rhythm games such as Guitar Hero that require proprietary controllers to play, Rocksmith instead allows players to plug in virtually any electric guitar and play along via a USB adapter.

An expansion adding bass guitar compatibility became available on August 14, 2012. A second release which integrates the bass expansion as well as additional refinements became available on October 16, 2012.[8] A second game in the series, titled Rocksmith 2014, was released in 2013, followed by a third, Rocksmith+, in 2022.


Rocksmith requires the use of the Real Tone cable, a USB cable that connects to the standard 14 in (6.35 mm) output jack of most electric guitars. Other guitars, such as acoustic guitars, may require additional hardware, such as a pickup. Though players can provide their own guitar, Rocksmith was also sold as a bundle that includes the game and adapter, an Epiphone Les Paul Junior guitar, strap, and 2 picks.[9]

Within the game, the player progresses along a career (separately for guitar and bass) where more songs, game modes, and challenges open up as the player earns Rocksmith points.

In Rocksmith, players are shown a virtual fretboard with colored notes (represented as colored rectangles associated to specific guitar strings) on numbered lanes (corresponding to frets) to indicate what they should play on the guitar. The top portion of the screen graphically shows how the player has performed on the previous sections of the song and at what difficulty (the orange boxes), as well as the song's lyrics and the current score.

In the normal game mode, playing with a song, the player is presented with a display that shows a representation of the guitar's fretboard, divided by numbered frets and colored strings. Notes represented as colored rectangles, matching the color of the guitar string(s) to be held down, move from the background to the foreground along numbered lanes reflecting the fret position. The notes turn 90 degrees at the moment that they should be strummed; additional markers are provided to help with timing of future notes. Additionally, the game shows an ideal position for the player's hand on the fretboard for the current segment of the song, moving this up and down as necessary. Lyrics to the song, if any, are shown in a karaoke-style under the background note pattern, but otherwise do not impact gameplay. Prior to playing any song, the game has the player check the tuning of the guitar.

A core feature of normal play is the game's ability to adjust the note density – effectively the difficulty – of the current song based on the player's performance to that point. Each song is split into a number of phases, and depending on how accurate the player is during a phase, a subsequent phase may provide more difficult note patterns. If the player's accuracy is not good during a phase, the subsequent one will fall back to a lower difficulty level. The player gets points for each note hit, and thus staying at higher difficulty levels can earn more points, but it is impossible for the player to fail a song. In some cases, if the player is missing too many notes, the game will pause the song to allow the player to readjust their hand position and make sure they strum the right note before proceeding. The game saves the last note density level that the player completed a song at, and will use that level at the start of the next play through that song.

As the player completes songs or other games modes within the career, they earn "Rocksmith points", similar to experience points, which unlock additional features. New venues, shown in the background of the main gameplay screens and having subtle influences on the sound of the guitar or bass, and new guitars and basses become available, as well as additional game modes. Some of these modes in the game are designed to help the player practice specific techniques. Technique Challenges, for both guitar and bass, give practice to some of the common tricks for the two instruments, such as hammer-ons/pull-offs, Chords, and Power Chords for guitar, and two-finger plucking and syncopation for bass. Each song can also be played in a Riff Repeater mode, where the player can select a specific section of song to practice and perfect, with options on controlling the speed and note density level. A "Guitarcade" becomes available after completing one of the Technique Challenges, which incorporates that technique into a mini-game element, such as "Ducks", a Galaga-like shoot-em-up, where the player must get their fretboard positions correct to fire on targets approaching in various lanes.[10] Finally, the player can gain access to a free play mode, which uses amplifier modeling to simulate the sound of a guitar as played through stage equipment. The modeling supports a variety of virtual hardware components, such as effects pedals and amplifiers, which can also be unlocked through career mode. Each song includes a custom sound bank referred to as an "authentic tone" designed to make the player's guitar sound as close to the original guitar tone of the song as possible, though they can override these with the virtual pedals and amplifiers.


Rocksmith has its origins in a project called Guitar Rising. Guitar Rising was developed by Game Tank, a small startup business, and was showcased at the 2008 Game Developers Conference. The game, at that time, was more of a technology demonstration, to display the ability of proprietary hardware – a USB cable that plugged into the audio-out jack of nearly any electric guitar – to determine what notes and chords the player was performing, instead of the typical note-matching gameplay of games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band.[11] The demonstration at GDC featured gameplay elements that would be taken into Rocksmith; the interface would show notes colored by string and numbered by fret, and that as the player progressed in the song, the difficulty or note-density would change to reflect how well the player was doing, as to avoid frustrating the player with too-difficult charts.[12][13] Jake Parks of Game Tank had stated at the time that they were looking to release the game in late 2008, anticipating a soundtrack of about thirty songs depending on licensing.[12] Later, the title was pushed to a 2009 release.[14]

About the same time, Ubisoft's president of North American operations, Laurent Detoc, challenged its San Francisco development team to develop their own game, as until this time, the studio only had supported external developers.[15] The music game field was of interest; as stated by Detoc, "I just could not believe the amount of waste that had gone in people spending so much time with plastic guitars".[15] The studio was able to acquire Game Tank and the Guitar Rising technology, bringing aboard Parks and his lead designer Nick Bonardi as Ubisoft employees. The Ubisoft studio team of about 60 were led by Paul Cross and Nao Higo, and set about to transform the Guitar Rising into a retail product over a period of about two years.[15] Developer Jason Schroeder referred to the state of Guitar Rising as a "PC tech demo of note recognition" and set about redesigning the HUD so that non-guitarists could understand the game better.[13] It had been laid-out as a horizontal scrolling tablature,[16] but this was found to be too difficult for non-guitarists to work with, and as the game was meant for anyone to be able to play, a vertical scrolling note chart was created instead.[13]


Radiohead's "Bodysnatchers" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" were included with pre-orders of the game.[17]

List of songs[18]
Song Artist(s) Release year
"House of the Rising Sun" The Animals 1964
"I Want Some More" Dan Auerbach 2009
"When I'm with You" Best Coast 2010
"I Got Mine" The Black Keys 2008
"Next Girl" The Black Keys 2010
"Song 2" Blur 1997
"Rebel Rebel" David Bowie 1974
"Step Out of the Car" The Boxer Rebellion 2011
"Run Back to Your Side" Eric Clapton 2010
"Angela" Jarvis Cocker 2009
"Sunshine of Your Love" Cream 1967
"We Share the Same Skies" The Cribs 2009
"Boys Don't Cry" The Cure 1979
"I Can't Hear You" The Dead Weather 2010
"Take Me Out" Franz Ferdinand 2004
"Do You Remember" The Horrors 2009
"I Miss You" Incubus 1999
"Slow Hands" Interpol 2004
"Use Somebody" Kings of Leon 2008
"Are You Gonna Go My Way" Lenny Kravitz 1993
"Surf Hell" Little Barrie 2011
"Sweet Home Alabama" Lynyrd Skynyrd 1974
"Unnatural Selection" Muse 2009
"Plug In Baby" Muse 2001
"In Bloom" Nirvana 1991
"Breed" Nirvana 1991
"Well OK Honey" Jenny O. 2010
"Good Enough" Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 2010
"Where is My Mind?" Pixies 1988
"Go With the Flow" Queens of the Stone Age 2002
"High and Dry" Radiohead 1995
"California Brain" RapScallions 2011
"Number Thirteen" Red Fang 2011
"Higher Ground" Red Hot Chili Peppers 1989
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" The Rolling Stones 1965
"The Spider and the Fly" The Rolling Stones 1965
"Play with Fire" The Rolling Stones 1965
"Gobbledigook" Sigur Rós 2008
"Panic Switch" Silversun Pickups 2009
"Outshined" Soundgarden 1991
"Me and the Bean" Spoon 2001
"Between the Lines" Stone Temple Pilots 2010
"Vasoline" Stone Temple Pilots 1994
"Under Cover of Darkness" The Strokes 2011
"Mean Bitch" Taddy Porter 2010
"A More Perfect Union" Titus Andronicus 2010
"Slither" Velvet Revolver 2004
"Burnished" White Denim 2011
"Icky Thump" The White Stripes 2007
"Islands" The xx 2009
"Chimney" The Yellow Moon Band 2009

In addition, there are 6 tracks from the developers that are unlockable in the journey mode when double encores are reached in a set:[citation needed]

Song Artist(s) Release year
"Ricochet" Brian Adam McCune 2011
"Boss" Chris Lee 2011
"Space Ostrich" Disonaur 2011
"Jules" Seth Chapla 2011
"The Star-Spangled Banner" Seth Chapla 2011
"Six AM Salvation" Versus Them 2011


Rocksmith was released in the US on October 18, 2011, to mostly positive reviews. Aggregating review website Metacritic rated the PlayStation 3 version 80/100,[19] the PC version 78/100,[21] and the Xbox 360 version 77/100.[20] Curtis Silver of Wired gave the game a 9/10, praising the intuitive nature of the note track and wrote that "Rocksmith is an amazing learning tool for the guitar. The eventual progression of rhythm games was to get to this point, where you are playing real instruments and actually learning how to play, rather than some sort of cartoonish emulation."[22] Ania Kwak of GamingExcellence gave the game a 9.8, stating that "It's rare to find a game that encompasses a teaching tool as effective as Rocksmith, with virtually no negatives to observe, while still being enjoyable to play."[23] Adam Dulge of PlayStation Universe praised the game and gave it an 8.5: "Rocksmith is an absolute must buy for anyone slightly interested in learning how to truly rock."[24] Amy Flower of Gamesblip was very impressed, rating the game 9/10: "Rocksmith's adaptability to your particular chops kicks arse. If you've never touched a geetaw you'll probably squonk like a Sonic Youth b-side, but patience and dedication brings reward."[25]

However, Jordan Mallory of Joystiq gave the game a mediocre 2+12/5 on the day of its release, stating that "...Rocksmith fails as both an educational platform and as a rhythm title, despite its groundbreaking technological foundations."[26] Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica said the game is "not terrible", but that it "fails as a way to learn guitar" due to lag, the automated difficulty adjustments, and the way the unlock system is implemented.[27]

Legal issues[edit]

When Ubisoft applied for a European trademark on the name "Rocksmith" in March 2011, an official opposition was filed by a band of the same name from Southend, England. The band claims to have been using the name for four years and had it registered for eight.[28] In August 2012, the case was settled in favor of Ubisoft by the European Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market.[29]

Ubisoft filed for and received a United States patent, U.S. Patent 9,839,852, for an "Interactive guitar game" based on the principles of Rocksmith.[30] Ubisoft subsequently filed a patent-infringement case against Yousician, a mobile app aimed to teach users how to play musical instruments which used similar principles as Rocksmith. In August 2019, a federal district court ruled that the patent claims of Ubisoft were too broad and not defined in enough specificity, nullifying the patent and dismissing Ubisoft's suit.[31] The decision was confirmed on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in June 2020.[32]

Downloadable content[edit]

DLC Amps and Gear[edit]

Name Type Pack Date
Tone Designer Time Saver All Standard Pedals Tone Designer Time Saver Pack October 18, 2011
SicSicSicS Distortion Pedal Heavy Metal – Gear Pack February 28, 2012
Caverb Delay Pedal Heavy Metal – Gear Pack February 28, 2012
Scooped Filter Pedal Heavy Metal – Gear Pack February 28, 2012
RSMP-12 High-Gain Amp Heavy Metal – Gear Pack February 28, 2012
RSMP-12 4×12 Cabinet Heavy Metal – Gear Pack February 28, 2012

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rocksmith shreds down under". March 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  2. ^ "Release date updates: 'Child of Eden', 'Rocksmith', 'Back to the Future: Ep 2'". The Independent. March 19, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  3. ^ a b c "Ubisoft – Rocksmith (Xbox 360)". Ubisoft. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  4. ^ a b "Ubisoft – Rocksmith (PS3)". Ubisoft. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  5. ^ "Ubisoft – Rocksmith (PC)". Ubisoft. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  6. ^ "digital spy – 'Rocksmith' PC release date announced". digital spy. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  7. ^ "Ubisoft® Leverages Gamebryo 3D Engine for Rocksmith™". Gamebryo. April 20, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "'Rocksmith' is bringin' home the bass on August 14th". August 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  9. ^ "Rocksmith". Ubisoft. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  10. ^ "PS3/X360 Preview – 'Rocksmith'". Worthplaying. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  11. ^ Kuchera, Ben (2008-02-28). "GDC: Guitar Rising, training for real Guitar Heroes". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  12. ^ a b Aihoshi, Richard (2008-03-27). "Guitar Rising Interview". IGN. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  13. ^ a b c "AusGamers Rocksmith Developer Interview with Jason Schroeder -". September 24, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Peterson, Brittany (2009-01-29). "Beyond Guitar Hero". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  15. ^ a b c Hoge, Patrick (2011-09-16). "Ubisoft's hot solo". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  16. ^ "Guitar Rising Interview – IGN". March 27, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  17. ^ Fisher, Liam (2011). "Get your fingers on Free Bird by preordering Rocksmith". Destructoid. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  18. ^ "Rocksmith Track List". Ubisoft. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Rocksmith for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  20. ^ a b "Rocksmith for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  21. ^ a b "Rocksmith for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  22. ^ Silver, Curtis (October 18, 2011). "Rocking Out With Rocksmith (Bring Your Own Guitar)". Wired. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  23. ^ "Rocksmith Review". GamingExcellence. 19 October 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  24. ^ "Rocksmith Review". PlayStation Universe. 18 October 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  25. ^ "Gamesblip review – Rocksmith". Gamesblip. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  26. ^ "Rocksmith review: Drop-D minus". Joystiq. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  27. ^ Kuchera, Ben (31 October 2011). "The three reasons Rocksmith fails as a way to learn guitar". ars technica.
  28. ^ "Unsigned band fights game corp to keep name". Rock News Desk. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  29. ^ "OAMI: Rocksmith". Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  30. ^ US patent 9,839,852 
  31. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (August 13, 2019). "Ubisoft loses Rocksmith patent suit". Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  32. ^ Calvin, Alex (June 15, 2020). "Ubisoft fails to convince appeals court over Rocksmith case". PC Games Insider. Retrieved June 15, 2020.

External links[edit]