Rock Band is coming to the PS4 and Xbox One
It’s been five years since the last Rock Band game was released, and according to Harmonix, that’s long enough. A new entry is on the way, and Rock Band 4 will debut later this year for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
“Every time we announce a new game, everybody’s like, ‘That’s cool, but where’s Rock Band 4?’” project manager Daniel Sussman told Yahoo.
It wasn’t that long ago that rhythm games were absolutely flooding the market. The Rock Band series and the Guitar Hero franchise battered fans like Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell dancing with an unsuspecting lady in Night at the Roxbury. The franchises completely oversaturated the market, and the billion dollar franchises disappeared.
It was their own fault too. There weren’t just a lot of games, there were spin-off games featuring a single band, but a complete price. There were thousands of songs, and not a one of them free. There were new instruments, game ports, and more. The only thing that didn’t come was innovation.
Once the market died, Rock Band and its competitor Guitar Hero went into hibernation. There’s no sign of a new Guitar Hero game from Activision, but it was a billion dollar franchise for its publisher so it isn’t like the execs at Activision have forgotten about it.
Rock Band publisher Electronic Arts and Activision have apparently been playing a bizarre game of chicken ever since. Neither wanted to blink too early and risk killing the rhythm game market again, when it is proven to be a potential winner.
One of the major issues that will both bolster, and potentially harm Rock Band 4 is Harmonix’s desire to incorporate the instruments already on the market. The game will not support the keyboard from Rock Band 3 or the pro controllers, but all other previously released instruments should be compatible.
“As a conscientious human being on this planet, I’d love for you to use the guitar you already have rather than force you to get a new one,” Sussman said.
It’s been five years, so odds are there are more plastic guitars in landfills around the world than there are collecting dust in a closet. There will, of course, also be new instruments for purchase as well, designed by Mad Catz.
It’s nice that Harmonix won’t force you to buy a bunch of equipment to replace what you already own, but it also limits what the games can be. You’re stuck with the same button configuration and general philosophy. To make sure there is something new though, the big change will be on increasing teamwork. Or bandwork. Whatever.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if the game design supported and rewarded you for being more aware of what’s happening with the other players? Adding some of those relationship dynamics is a big area for us,” Sussman said.
Along with the instruments, all previously released Rock Band songs will be compatible as well. If you bought them in the past, you won’t have to buy them again. but while there will be cross-generational support, it’s not clear yet if that support will transcend platform families. So if you have a heavy library of songs on Xbox 360, but you now play on a PS4, you’ll have to wait to see if they can work it out.
Harmonix is also claiming that it is changing its strategy for the new gen. Rather than bombarding fans with several sequels until they can’t stand it anymore, they want this iteration of the series to matter.
“We don’t see a 5, 6, 7, 8 coming,” Sussman said. “We think that through this dialogue with our community, we can build out that core.”
Rock Band 4 will be released later this year.