On April 2, Harmonix will release the final downloadable content for Rock Band. Don McLean’s 1971 iconic song, “American Pie,” will be the game’s swan song, and what a run it has been. Since the original launched on November 2007, over 4000 songs digitally have been supplied weekly allowing the jam to continue. During Harmonix‘s Pax East panel, they detailed the issues licensing music, and what music they were looking for.
Chris Rigopulos, vice president of the developer said, “It all starts with a song,” which is created by multiple moving integral parts than the band itself. It’s the biggest reason why very few solo band albums have made their way to Rock Band’s digital marketplace. It was easier for the developer to acquire the rights of a song that’s already out. However, it has not stopped them from creating content for their loyal fan base.
In the game’s prime, Harmonix was exploring the possibility of making Rock Band: Japan, and Pearl Jam: Rock Band. These were previously confirmed projects that the development team announced early in its process that didn’t fruition, but have owed up to their false step. “We made mistakes, we did our best to deliver on what we stupidly promised,” John Drake, director of communications and brand management said. According to Drake both games were full-blown experiences that were in development before they were canceled. What caned Rock Band: Japan was the “small living spaces plus big hardware”, which doesn’t work in small Japanese homes. Pearl Jam: Rock Band based itself on various live shows, and was supposed to release in 2010. The 1990’s alternative rock band has had multiple albums release on the digital marketplace, but knowing the news that this was supposed to be a full game, you have to suspect that maybe some of it was left over work.
For this reason, fan favorite bands didn’t make an appearance. On RockBand.com request submission form, the most requested band was Muse with 616,738 requests, but only provided 1 piece of downloadable content. You would have thought that with that much of a demand they would provided albums worth of music for their digital marketplace, or develop a game similar to Beatles: Rock Band. It’s also worth mentioning that Rock Band: Led Zeppelin was never realized because of the band imagery. It just speaks to how hard it was for Harmonix to make premium artists like the Beatles, and Nirvana available to users.
The Rock Band franchise was the party game I remember playing endlessly during High School. After listening too how hard it was for them to give us weekly downloadable content for almost five years, I have more of an appreciation for their effort now.