Can You Play Guitar Hero On PC?

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You may be enjoying Guitar Hero and playing it on many gaming consoles. You may even try the iPhone version or play the arcade edition. However, have you ever wondered if a Guitar Hero exists for PC? Can you play Guitar Hero on PC?

You can play Guitar Hero on PC, but not for all versions. Only Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock, as well as Guitar Hero: World Tour, is available for Windows PC natively. You can use emulators on PC to play other versions of Guitar Hero, although they may not be stable. 

This article explores if you can play Guitar Hero on PC and what versions of Guitar Hero are playable on PC. It also looks at what controllers you can use to play the game on a PC. 

The article then discusses how you can install and run multiple versions of Guitar Hero on a PC. Finally, it explores alternative versions of Guitar Hero-like games you can play on PC for free.

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Can You Play Guitar Hero On PC?


What Is Guitar Hero?

Guitar Hero is a series of electronic music games released between 2005 and 2015. The game uses a guitar-shaped controller with buttons and levers that simulate actual guitar playing. Matching the prompts with buttons on the controller gives you points and helps you to earn high scores. 

Guitar Hero is a long series of electronic music games released between 2005 and 2015. Harmonix was the original studio that developed the game. However, the game has been passed around to multiple studios. The last developer of the game is Freestyle Games.

When playing Guitar Hero, you use a guitar-shaped game controller to match screen prompts. When matching the screen prompts, you use one of your hands to control the buttons on the guitar neck while the other controls the lever on the guitar’s body. This simulates the action of playing the guitar

Additionally, the game contains prompts that demand the player do hammer-ons, pull-offs, and even whammy bars. 

You will enter a streak if you can execute the screen prompts repeatedly. The longer the streak, the more points you score, and the more excited the audience will be. The crowd’s excitement can be seen from the background of the screen prompts and the noise they make. 

However, you may notice the crowd will boo you if you make mistakes repeatedly. Your rock meter may also fall. If the meter falls too much, the game may end prematurely.

In 2009, the Guitar Hero franchise was listed as the third-largest video game franchise, only behind Super Mario Series and Madden NFL. Cumulatively, it sold over $1 billion, showing its popularity. It also became part of popular culture and was referenced in television shows such as South Park.

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Guitar Hero is currently not actively developed. There are also no plans to revive or release a new version. The most recent version of Guitar Hero was Guitar Hero Live, released in 2015.

Depending on the versions, Guitar Hero may be available across many platforms, such as Playstation, Xbox 360 or One, Nintendo Wii, PC, Mac, and iOS. There are also arcade versions available.

Can You Play Guitar Hero On PC?

You can play Guitar Hero on PC, but not all versions. Only Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock, as well as Guitar Hero: World Tour, is available natively for Windows PC. You may need to use emulators to play other versions of Guitar Hero, which means additional technical work. 

Some of us want to play Guitar Hero but cannot because we do not have a gaming console. You may also be in this condition. As a result, you may be wondering if Guitar Hero is playable on PC. 

The good thing is, yes, you can play Guitar Hero on PC. However, not all versions of Guitar Hero are available on PC. Only Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock, as well as Guitar Hero: World Tour and are available natively for Windows PC.

There was no explanation for why only two versions of Guitar Hero are playable on PC. However, if you are to speculate, they were incredibly popular during the release of Guitar Hero: World Tour and Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock

This may mean several things. One, Harmonix was so confident in the game’s popularity that it decided to invest more funds to develop a PC version. The second reason is perhaps they want to explore the PC market and see if there is demand. 

The PC version may not generate many sales, which may cause Harmonix to stop developing PC versions of future Guitar Hero games. As a result, only two game versions are playable on PC.

How To Play Other Versions Of Guitar Hero On PC?

If you want to play other versions of Guitar Hero on PC, you can try to run them using an emulator. Emulators such as RPCS3 allow you to run Playstation 3 versions of Guitar Hero games on your PC. However, since they are not official, you may encounter technical issues.

ConsoleEmulators For PC
Playstation 2PCSX2
Playstation 3RPCS3, RetroArch, MEDNAFEN
Xbox 360Xenia, DXBX, Xeon
Nintendo WiiDolphin, Cemu, Decaf

Suppose you are keen to play other versions of Guitar Hero on PC. You may consider installing emulators on your PC and then trying to run the game.

Emulators are software that you can install on your PC. They then create a virtual machine, allowing you to run software not made for your PC. There are many Emulator software out there aiming to create specific virtual machines. 

For instance, if you are looking to create a virtual machine for PS2, you can install the emulator PCSX2. For Playstation 3, you can decide between installing RPCS3 or RetroArch.

Can You Play Guitar Hero On PC?

Once installed, you can load the Guitar Hero game into it using either the CD tray on your PC or a virtual CD. If the setup is correct, the game should load up and play. 

However, do understand that these are not official versions of the game developed by Harmonix. Using emulators is a workaround not officially supported by the game’s developers. 

As a result, the game may not perform as smoothly or well. In fact, you should expect to see some glitches while playing Guitar Hero using PC emulators. This is because no development team put in the time to check for bugs and to fix them.

For example, some players have noticed some issues with sound synchronization, particularly with lower-spec computers. This may mean the game does not match the song you hear over the speakers. This may be problematic to some players and make the game unenjoyable.

Is Guitar Hero For PC Better Than On Consoles?

Generally, playing Guitar Hero on consoles may be better than playing on PC. This is because the game was originally developed for consoles. Plus, playing on consoles means viewing the prompts from your TV screen, which is larger. The speakers connected to your TV may sound better too.

There are speculations on why official PC versions of Guitar Hero stopped after Guitar Hero: World Tour. Some believed it was cost, while some thought it may be demand issues. However, there are many reasons why Guitar Hero may be better played on a console than on a PC. 

Originally Developed For Consoles 

Guitar Hero may be better on gaming consoles because they were originally developed for them. The PC version of Guitar Hero was more of an afterthought.

This also means loading, playing, and performing things such as connecting controllers to the consoles should be much easier than on a PC.

TV Screen Makes Playing Easier And Fun

When playing Guitar Hero on a gaming console, the console is commonly connected to a TV. A TV screen is usually much larger than a laptop or desktop monitor, which means if you are to play a game, you can see better. 

The graphics for Guitar Hero may also have been designed with large TV screens in mind instead of smaller screens. This may mean you get better graphics by watching the game on TV. 

The larger TV screen can also make playing multiplayer games easier, particularly if you play battle mode. This is because there will be two or more players. A larger TV screen should allow both players to see the screen better and move around better than a smaller laptop screen.

TV May Have Better Speakers 

Playing Guitar Hero on a gaming console may also be better since you can play the game using a better speaker. Gaming consoles are commonly connected to the TV, which may also have better sound systems connected to it as well. 

Since Guitar Hero is an electronic music game, it means that part of the game’s enjoyment is listening to the tracks you are playing along to. A smaller laptop speaker may not be able to play the tracks as well as a surround sound system your home entertainment speaker can. 

Can You Use Guitar Hero Controllers On PC?

You can use Guitar Hero controllers on PC. Those that connect to your console through USB should be able to connect easily, with some settings adjustment. The adjustment may be different for wireless controllers.

ControllerVersions Of Guitar Hero 
Wired ControllerGuitar Hero I, II, III
Wireless, Non-Bluetooth ControllerGuitar Hero IV (World Tour), Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero (Warriors Of Rock), 
Wireless, Bluetooth ControllerGuitar Hero Live

Generally, Guitar Hero controllers can be used to play the game on PC. However, depending on your controller type, the setting up process may differ. If you are using an emulator, the setup process may also be slightly harder to manage. 

There are three types of Guitar Hero controllers:

Wired Controller 

These controllers were released with the earlier versions of Guitar Hero (Guitar Hero I, II, III). They either connect to the console via USB or the unique Playstation connector. They require plugging in and may be a little less fun to play with since you may find the cables a little restrictive for your movement. 

The USB-ported controller should be able to work directly with your PC. At the same time, those on the Playstation connector may need to use an adapter.

Wireless Controller Without Bluetooth

These controllers are wireless and are released after Guitar Hero III. You connect your guitar to your device by plugging the wireless dongle into the console and then syncing it. 

The key is to ensure the wireless dongle has a USB plug, which allows you to plug it into your PC. 

Wireless Controller With Bluetooth

These are the most recent official Guitar Hero controllers, released with Guitar Hero Live in 2015. They could connect directly to your PC, which supports Bluetooth. 

However, this controller can be slightly different in its buttons and configurations. As a result, if you try to play older versions of guitar hero with it, it may cause the game to misinterpret the buttons. 

These glitches may cause your game to become unplayable and less enjoyable. This issue is particularly common, which Activision answered on their website. 

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Which Guitar Hero Controller Works Best For PC?

Your answer may depend on how you intend to set up the game on your PC. If you care about setting up the game as recommended by Guitar Hero, then you best play on your PC with the wired controller. However, if you are open to exploring setting the game using emulators, you could also try out wireless controllers.

Suppose you want to set up Guitar Hero on your PC and explore suitable controllers. In this case, the best controllers may depend on how you intend to set up the game on your PC. 

The Safe And Secure Route

Suppose you are the type that prefers to have a safe and stable system running on your PC. This means you will only play Guitar Hero versions that are PC-supported, which are Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Since these are older versions of Guitar Hero may not work very well with newer generations of controllers, such as the Bluetooth controllers made for Guitar Hero Live. You best try to play the game with either the first-generation wired controller or the second-generation non-Bluetooth wireless controller. 

Only the wired controllers were available during the release of Guitar Hero III. You can use wired controllers for the best gaming performance, consistency, and satisfaction. 

Guitar Hero: World Tour is the first version of Guitar Hero. It comes with a non-Bluetooth wireless controller, which means you can try to use the wireless controller to play it. However, you should still be able to play it with the wired controller.

The Experimental Route

If you go this route, chances are you will try to load other versions of Guitar Hero on your PC with an emulator. In this case, the possibility is endless, which means you can try to connect all sorts of Guitar Hero controllers to your PC through the emulator. 

For example, suppose you try to load Guitar Hero 5 with a Playstation 3 emulator RetroArch on your PC. This means the emulator may have a system to detect Playstation 3-compatible controllers, which you can use to connect your Guitar Hero controller. 

Simply follow the instructions from your emulator and see if you can connect your connector successfully. Feel free to experiment with all the controller types, and see which connects well. 

The key is connecting the right type of controller to the right emulator. For instance, it may not be possible to connect a Nintendo Wii controller to an Xbox 360 emulator. However, backward versions of controllers for the same console may work. For example, you may be able to connect a Playstation 2 controller to a Playstation 3 emulator.

The nice thing about this approach is you can have access to playing all versions of Guitar Hero on your PC. Aside from that, it may also be cost-effective since you can try to make whatever controllers or versions of Guitar Hero games you have in hand work. 

The downside would be stability. Since you are introducing so many new aspects in the game, such as using emulators and PCs, the gaming performance may be unpredictable. These hacks are also not sanctioned by Guitar Hero itself, which means they are not tested for bugs and fixed. This may mean your game may crash or not perform satisfactorily.

Are There Free Versions Of Guitar Hero For PC?

If you prefer a free, more stable version of an electronic music game similar to Guitar Hero, consider games such as Clone Hero or Frets on Fire. These games are free, open-sourced, and are built natively for PC. These games also connect to Guitar Hero controllers. 

Suppose you find trying to set up Guitar Hero on PC too much trouble or just want a free version to play with and cure the itch. In this case, consider playing free, open-sourced games similar to it. 

Many open-sourced electronic music games are out there, with some built to mimic Guitar Hero. These games are also built natively for PC, meaning you download, install and play. You do not need to use emulators or other ‘middleman’ software.

The most popular of these free games are Clone Hero and Frets on Fire.

Clone Hero

Clone Hero was surprisingly a fan-base project started by Ryan Foster in 2017 as a way to keep the game going after it was announced that no new Guitar Hero series would be released.

As a result, the game was designed to be as similar as possible to Guitar Hero, which also means you can connect your controller to the game.  

Since it is a fan project, expect to see many community-made songs added to the game, expanding playable songs from Guitar Hero’s small list. This means you can use your Guitar Hero controller to play very up-to-date songs as well on Clone Hero.

Frets On Fire

If you prefer not to use the Guitar hero controller to play, you can consider Frets on Fire. The game is similar to Clone Hero, an open-sourced, free video game. It was, however, not a community project but was built for a game development competition in 2006.

The best thing about Frets on Fire is you can play it using a keyboard. In fact, you can see the game mascot holding a keyboard slung on his shoulder like a guitar. However, you can still connect your Guitar Hero controller to the game if you prefer it that way.

Guitar Flash

Guitar Flash may be the easiest and fastest way to engage in a Guitar Hero-like gaming experience, as it is a flash-based game that you can play straight from a browser. This is the place if you just want to cure the itch for Guitar Hero. 

This means you do not need to run any emulator or install any software and can play it straight. You do not need to do any connection work depending on your settings.

You can play the game on a keyboard or connect a Guitar Hero controller to play it. You can also select different difficulty levels and decide if you prefer to play it with or without strumming

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