Harmonix Claims Rock Band 4’s PC Audience is Too Small

Earlier today, we reported on the news that Rock Band’s 4 Fig campaign had ended and only managed to amass 52 percent of the whopping $1.5 million target. Since then, Harmonix has released a final update explaining why they believe the crowdfunding campaign wasn’t a successful venture and said:

“How do we feel about the end of the campaign? Disappointed, obviously. There’s no shortage of people at Harmonix who love Rock Band, and some of us got extra excited at the prospect of bringing back RBN, and even more about getting the chance to expose RB to a brand new audience.”

“But at the same time we learned exactly what we needed to learn: there doesn’t seem to be enough of an audience to make Rock Band for PC a viable project for us right now. We’re committed to supporting and improving RB4 on consoles. To be clear, we raised nearly $800,000 via backers and investors; it’s an impressive showing of support from our community and for our brand. But as an independent developer we have to be careful about how much money and development time we risk on a project we’re not sure has a big enough audience, and crowdfunding allowed us to (among other things)* judge the market fit for Rock Band PC.”

According to Harmonix, the main reason for failing to reach the funding target was due to a lack of enthusiasm in the PC market. At first glance, this seems a little bit rash and trying to blame consumers for not investing. There’s a huge array of reasons why PC players were sceptical of backing the project. Firstly, the $1.5 million target is quite substantial and might have deterred people from backing smaller amounts. Even though Harmonix is now an independent company and no longer associated with Viacom/MTV, it’s difficult to shake off the past business arrangements. By this, I mean consumers don’t perceive Harmonix as a cash strapped company struggling to pay for development costs. On another note, why did the company decide to use Fig instead of Kickstarter?

To be fair, Harmonix has directly addressed the key questions about their funding campaign in the latest update and it’s well worth reading before making your own opinion.

Thank you to RobotBrush for providing us with this information:

Do you think Harmonix has a valid point, or are they blaming consumers for being wary of their crowdfunding project?

Rock Band 4 PC Crowdfunding Campaign Has Failed

The Rock Band franchise provides hours of entertainment for music lovers and proved to be a popular pastime with close friends. Learning an instrument is very challenging and requires a patient approach. Furthermore, to master any instrument takes years of experience and a huge commitment. As someone who plays the guitar, I’ve never been too keen on music games and would prefer people to learn the basics of a real instrument. However, this isn’t always a viable option due to time constraints and purchasing music equipment can be a very expensive proposition. Rock Band and Guitar Hero allow people to feel like rock stars without having to endure the hard learning curve.

Unfortunately, the Rock Band games have been resigned to the console market and PC players haven’t been able to enjoy the unique experiences. Perhaps, the publisher felt the series is best played in front of a large TV in the living room. However, this isn’t really reflective of modern PCs because you can easily hook up a HDMI cable from your PC to a television. This is especially the case with small form factor systems. Despite being backed by a major publisher for a number of years, the Rock Band team recently went independent and launched a crowdfunding campaign on fig.co to produce a PC version of Rock Band 4. Here’s a brief snippet from the page:

“Back in the Rock Band heyday, we were owned by media giant Viacom, and distributed by game publishing giant Electronic Arts. What you might not know is that a few years ago, we spun back out of Viacom and went completely independent. This past October, we released Rock Band 4 for the consoles—the first new Rock Band release in 5 years. This was a massive undertaking for us as an indie studio, but we somehow pulled it off.”

“We’ve been planning, scheduling, scoping and preparing this PC version since the day after we launched on console back in October, and we’re now ready to launch this Fig campaign to ask for your help to make this happen.”

Unfortunately, the crowdfunding attempt didn’t go as planned and only managed to reach 52% of the $1,500,000 goal. Overall, 1674 backers pledged $792,817 which fell well short of their target. As a result, it looks like Rock Band 4 on PC isn’t a project which will ever come to fruition.

Crowdfunding Campaign Hopes to Bring Rock Band 4 to PC

Remember when we reviewed Rock Band 4 review and we brought you the bad news that it would only be coming to consoles? Well, it looks like we might have been wrong, as Harmonix are pushing to find a way to bring the plastic instrument madness to PC! While the game didn’t rake in the cash as much as the company had hoped, or their partner MadCatz, who produce the games peripherals, they’re looking to set the record straight wit h a Fig crowd-funding campaign.

In order to bring the game to PC, they’ll need to raise a fairly staggering $1.5 million in the next 35 days, but if all goes well, we could see a release of the game on Steam in Fall 2016.

“With a PC version being released on Steam much of the infrastructure for adding songs to the game can be done via Steam Workshop, with no fees and less overhead. So we’re updating the authoring tools and documentation to help anyone with a song in their heart (and multi-track audio recordings, and some time….) to create playable Rock Band songs. Then, using Steam Workshop, you can submit those files to us—we’ll do a quick check to make sure they play properly and include music you own, and then put them into the game via the Rock Band 4 in-game store. Steam Workshop makes sure you get your cut of the revenues when they sell.” – Said Harmonix

The PC release is expected to have all of the same content we’ve seen released so far for consoles, so that’s certainly a nice perk, but will you be helping fund its development? Hit up the funding page here for more details.

  • World Tour Campaign Mode
  • Freestyle Guitar Solos
  • 65 songs included “out of the box” – and you can get up to 33 additional songs if you back us here on Fig!
  • 1700+ additional playable songs available as downloadable content
  • Supporting wireless guitar controller, drum kit and next generation microphone

Of course, Harmonix know what the PC market likes, so you can expect the PC release to enjoy a few extra features.

  • Tools to author your own songs for play in the PC version of Rock Band 4 – submit them to Rock Band Network via Steam Workshop and share with the rest of the Rock Band 4 PC community!
  • Mouse and computer keyboard support for menu navigation
  • All feature and content updates from the console game.  Rock Band 4 on the PC will have all of the updates released prior to its launch, and will continue to be updated alongside the console versions moving forward.

Harmonix Staff Have Been Posting Positive Reviews of Rock Band 4 on Amazon

Rock Band 4 has received fairly positive critical acclaim although the user-response is quite mixed. In the last few years, community media via Twitch, Steam Reviews and Amazon Reviews have helped inform consumers when deliberating a game purchase. Many are distrustful of the mainstream gaming print media, and prefer to listen to first-hand experiences from early adopters. In a completely audacious move, members of the Rock Band development team have been leaving positive reviews on Amazon for a game they help create. Clearly, their own opinion is biased and skewed the Amazon reviews in a completely unfair manner. Destructoid investigated three leading reviews on Amazon and outlined their key roles at Harmonix.

In lieu of this damning evidence, Harmonix released a statement which reads:

“Harmonix has clarified its internal policy about posting reviews of our own products on retail sites, and we’ve asked that existing reviews be edited to identify Harmonix employees or be removed entirely. While we believe the reviews posted by a few employees were sincere and without ill intentions, as a studio we don’t believe these are appropriate actions. We appreciate the feedback from the community, and take our relationship with our fans seriously.”

Disclosure helps in this situation, but I’m baffled why these team members thought giving their opinion was a good idea in the first place. Even with this disclosure, people will find it difficult to take their opinion seriously. Matthew Nordhaus added this piece of information to his original review:

“I added this review half in jest (as you might be able to tell from the tone of the original). In hindsight, it’s probably important that I note that I worked on the game and work for Harmonix. That being said, I’m confident that if I didn’t I would still give the game five stars. It’s a beautiful, peaceful, cooperative game, rare enough already in today’s landscape, that I can play with my wife and kids. Music discovery, playing with your family and friends, and cooperation make Rock Band my favorite.”

I’m not entirely sure if this explanation sounds like a passionate plea or marketing exercise. Whatever the case, I’m glad this has been investigated and everything has been properly disclosed. Although, this was clearly going to happen and provides a lesson to any publisher out there who tries to pull a similar stunt.

Rock Band 4 – A New Era of Rhythm Gaming

Plastic instruments around the world have been slowly working their way into people’s garages and lofts for the last couple of years, ever since the great rhythm game boom slowly died off and became stagnant. It was a great time, I owned many of the games and practically had an orchestra’s worth of pretend instruments, which saw hundreds of hours of usage between me and my friends when we were having house parties, or just kicking back with a few beers.

Now it seems those good times of jamming with your friends are back, for what feels like something of a reunion tour and hopefully not the last one. Harmonix is back with Rock Band 4, with new songs, new instruments and given the few years it has been since the last one, a new audience to entice into the rhythm game market.

There’s a notable omission from the game this time around, however, as there is a lack of online multiplayer, which is a big issue for those who live far from their friends. On the plus side, this game is locked and loaded for local co-op gaming, allowing you and your friends to play drums and guitars, as well as sing vocals. Whether or not online multiplayer being missing is a deal breaker for you will vary, but for me, it’s not a feature I would be using. The game is missing a few small features, but all that could change in the near future, as Harmonix has made it no secret that they’re using the base game as a content platform, with new features, songs and who knows what else coming through various updates, with several in the works already.

Setting up the instruments is easy enough, as they’re all intuitive as far as where all the components go and as a bonus, you’ll find batteries included, as all instruments bar the microphone are wireless. The drum controller has been massively updated, although it still keeps the look and shape you’ll be familiar with. It’s more responsive, durable and from what I can tell, a little quieter too! The pads are velocity sensitive, the kick pedal is durable and has a responsive spring that makes it feel natural and as a nice bonus, the included sticks are of a very nice quality; they’ll feel right at home in the hands of anyone who’s played a real drum kit.

The guitar looks stunning, a Stratocaster copy with dual neck buttons. The first five at the top of the neck, the rest above the 12th fret area for some solo and tapping action; if you’re feeling adept enough. I’ve been a Guitar Hero veteran for years and I can still hear the squeaky and clicky strum bar in my nightmares. Those days are gone, the MadCatz guitar is super quiet, and the buttons have a really nice action that’s forgiving for those who don’t hit them dead-center. Put simply, the partnership between Harmonix and MadCatz has paid off really well, as the instruments are the best this sector of the market has ever seen and they’re an absolute joy to use.

Gameplay on Rock Band 4 is right where you would expect it to be, somehow everything is new and tweaked, but at the core, it still feels like the same old game. This is a good thing and a bad thing, those looking for a new dynamic will like the new improvisation sections, but at the end of it all, it’s the same core game we came to know and love in the past. The song selection is quite diverse, offering everything from System of a Down to Uptown Funk (like we’ve not had enough of that one already), but there’s enough in there for the music lovers and the karaoke addicts to blunder their way through and keep people entertained. Of course, there’s also a huge library of legacy songs, as well as DLC tracks that are already coming thick and fast, so there’s going to be no shortage to stuff to play anytime soon.

View the complete song list here and view the complete list of legacy song here

The main “quest” if you will is entertaining enough to warrant a play through, but doesn’t span the difficulty levels as well as previous games in the series. On the plus side, you can swap instruments and even difficulty levels mid-song, meaning you’re less inclined to quit the song when things go wrong. The higher difficulties are a hell of a challenge and a lot of fun, but those wanting something more authentic can invest in the Pro Cymbal kit which launches later this year, as this will unlock Pro mode for the drums.

What this game really lacks though it big hitting tracks, sure there are a few great bands, but they’re not usually the “hits” of their respective albums. This is likely due to most of the best songs being done already with previous entries in the series, but it’s still no excuse. The DLC and more so the legacy library does patch that up nicely, but there’s still no excuses for having two U2 songs here by any measure.

Overall, great fun, incredible new instruments and a good selection of fun to play tracks to get you started. It doesn’t feel as fresh as I was hoping, but with more songs on the way, the drum cymbal add-on now available for pre-order and the promise of plenty of updates to the core game, this is still the best entry in the Rock Band franchise to date and it’s going to be a big contender this holiday season. If you’re looking to get back into rhythm gaming, you’ll not find anything better.

Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99, while the Triple Cymbal Expansion Kit will set you back an additional $49.99. The standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, the Guitar and game is £109.99 and the drum cymbals are £39.99.

Pros

  • Exceptional quality instruments
  • All songs available to play without completing main quest
  • Drop in – drop out gameplay
  • Good range of musical styles available
  • Huge DLC library
  • Expandable drum kit
  • Virtually silent guitar

Cons

  • No online multiplay

Neutral

  • Drums expansion kit not available at launch
  • DLC prices can quickly add up to a small fortune, but with licencing rights, this is understandable
  • Not as many big hits in the base game as previous entries in the series

“Rock Band 4 is the best entry in the series so far, with the best instruments ever to bless rhythm gaming and a huge library of songs available to choose from. If you’re looking for the ultimate party game, this is it!”

 

 

Van Halen “Jump” Into Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4’s music library includes a wealth of iconic artists including Aerosmith, Avenged Sevenfold, The Black Keys, Elvis Presley, Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, St. Vincent, Queens of the Stone Age, The Who, and for the first time, Van Halen! On launch, fans will be able to rock out to Van Halen’s legendary hit track, “Panama” with more songs to come in the future. According to the Harmonix’s CEO, Steve Janiak,

“For years we’ve wanted to bring Van Halen’s music to Rock Band,”

“Not only are the songs incredible in their own right, but they’re amazingly fun to play and perform, whether you’re on guitar, bass, drums, or vocals.”

In terms of gameplay, Rock Band 4 maintains the quintessential full-band experience whilst adding Freestyle Guitar solos. Also, there will be in excess of 1500 downloadable tracks on the Rock Band Music Store. With such an extensive library, there should something to suit your style. I’m pleased to see the resurgence of music-based games but I prefer Rocksmith because the software is built around learning a proper instrument. Nevertheless, Guitar Hero and Rock Band are exceptionally fun at parties.

Rock Band 4 is scheduled for release on October 6th and will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Please note, launch hardware might be limited so pre-orders are highly recommended.

Rock Band 4 Pre-Orders Available and FreeStyle Guitar Unveiled

Harmonix and Mad Catz have partnered up for the newest Rockband game and the fourth in the series, that is old news. What is new is the reveal of the Freestyle Guitar Solo gameplay, something everyone is understandably excited about.

When you think of rock music, you need guitar solos and it has been missing from the previous games. You just can’t have real rock without guitar solos. We will still have to wait a little until we bring out the axe as the game isn’t scheduled for a release until October 6th, but it is already available as pre-order for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Show off your vanity, impress your friends, and generally just have fun. That is what this game is all about. Now you don’t need to be a skilled guitarist anymore, tho it probably wouldn’t hurt if you are.

https://youtu.be/Dtvh7B_U-Hw

We also got two videos along with the announcement, one being the Freestyle trailer above and one being a behind the scenes on how it all came to be. What the team wanted to achieve and the journey towards the product we’ve just seen demonstrated.

There are two different versions for each console. One is a bundle with all instruments for your entire band and that will set you back $249.99 while the other just comes with the guitar and only costs about half, $129.99.

Below you’ll find a bunch of screenshots of the game that were released along with all this information. I for one am looking forward to this game.

We May Not See a PC Release for Rock Band 4 and Here’s Why

We saw Rock Band 4 being announced for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 earlier this year, but how about the PC? We haven’t received any official announcements for the latter platform, up until now that is. Harmonix just announced that the latest Rock Band title will not have a PC release due to piracy concerns.

The developer is not actually concerned with the game’s piracy itself, but more with the songs in the title itself. They state that there are many concerns regarding the platform’s security and it looks like bands are sceptical with releasing the game on the PC as well. They are afraid that their songs may eventually end up being stripped out of the game and uploaded to torrent websites, thus they are more comfortable on going with the closed nature of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms.his does not mean we won’t see Rock Band 4 on PC. Harmonix stated that songs may come with a DRM platform and prevent songs from being ripped out of the title.

However, this does not mean we won’t see Rock Band 4 on PC. Harmonix stated that songs may come with a DRM platform and prevent songs from being ripped out of the title. However, they will not make the move to release it on PC due to the low demand on the platform. They say that if a lot of fans want it on the PC, they may consider making a PC version in the future. Until then, we just have to look forward for the console version.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Mad Catz Will Co-Publish Rock Band 4 for PS4 and Xbox One

Mad Catz has entered the software business before, but never on as large a scale as this time. They have partnered with Harmonix and this time it’s not just for branded peripherals but the entire game. This cooperation will help to ensure that there is plenty of available stock when the game is released as well as great bundles with Mad Catz controllers packed together with the new game.

“Since the announcement of Rock Band 4, we’ve been thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response of passionate fans and gamers worldwide. The time is right to reintroduce the franchise to the new generation of consoles and our co-publishing agreement is a natural extension of the excellent relationship both companies share in realizing that vision,” said Darren Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “We’re excited to extend our agreement with Harmonix, and are confident that Mad Catz’ global sales force, distribution channels and retail marketing expertise will deliver the retail success we believe Rock Band 4 will achieve in 2015 and beyond.”

The new game is scheduled for a 2015 release date on both systems and Mad Catz will handle retail sales, promotions and distributions of both the game and hardware while Harmonix will handle all digital sales and content. Mad Catz is also developing a new generation of Rock Band 4 wireless music game controllers that will give players the chance to rock as the biggest guitarists, bassists, drummers and singers of all time.

The new rock game will feature an unrivalled and diverse collection of music across the spectrum of rock and provide gamers with access to over 2,000 compatible tracks via DLC. Previously owned music from the franchise will be reintegrated which is great news for those who have spent a lot on the previous three Rock Star games.

Rock Band 4 for Xbox One and PS4 Confirmed

Rock Band 4 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 has been confirmed by developer Harmonix Music Systems, due for release later this year.

“When we stopped developing Rock Band 3 [in 2010], clearly the market needed a break,” Alex Rigopulos, CEO of Harmonix, told IGN. “But since then we’ve been paying close attention to what our community has been saying about it. There’s been this steadily growing crescendo of fans saying, ‘Hey Harmonix, what the hell? It’s time! Why haven’t you announced a new Rock Band? We’re ready for it!’”

Harmonix says that it is taking the game back to basics, and is cutting the fat of multiple releases. Instead, Rock Band 4 will serve as a central hub for additional DLC packs; Harmonix has confirmed that purchased songs from previous Rock Band games will be transferable to the new release, specific to the player’s Xbox or PSN account, and that it is looking into a way to make old instruments compatible with the new game.

Regarding Harmonix’s new model, Rigopulos said, “Going forward, our goal is to view [Rock Band 4] as more of a live service where we can gradually and incrementally append new functionality to the core experience rather than having $60 annual title updates. You shouldn’t expect a Rock Band 5 in 2016.”

Harmonix has also announced a series of exclusive Rock Band instruments, now available for pre-order.

Source: IGN

Is Activision Working on a new Guitar Hero?

This is music to my ears and no doubt bad news for the people who live next-door to me! It’s been four long years since Guitar Hero last graced our screens and at least two years since I rocked out with my Guitar Hero drum kit and guitars; is it time for me to dust off the old peripherals and warm up for a new game?

According to two sources close to the franchise, Activision is developing a new Guitar Hero game, as well as new peripherals for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation, but have previously said, that as one of the most beloved entertainment franchises, we would only bring Guitar Hero back if we developed the right innovations to usher the franchise into the new generation of gaming.” Said Activision when asked for a comment on the rumour.

It’s expected the game will be at E3 and will launch later this year, no doubt in time for the Christmas season.

With news that Harmonix may be working on Rock Band 4, it looks like the two rock-star simulators will be going for a battle of the bands once more!

Thank you IGN for providing us with this information.

Harmonix Music VR Coming to Samsung Gear VR

This week we revealed to you that Samsung had teamed up with Oculus VR to release their new Gear VR mobile headset, following that we found out that Rock Band developer Harmonix was working on the device. We now know that the music game loving team are working on music visualizer Harmonix Music VR.

“It uses Harmonix’s proprietary Music Analysis Engine to generate a song-specific, high-resolution event sequence that drives the reactive elements in your virtual world,” the developer stated in its recent announcement on the project.

So basically it’s a music player and some cool special effects, although exactly what it’ll look like is a complete mystery. Perhaps we could end up with something like AudioSurf or maybe just some cool stuff to see, either way it sounds more like the work of your average indie developer, as I was expecting Harmonix to be working a unique port of one of their main franchises.

“Harmonix has always been interested in creating fundamentally new ways for people to interact with music,” said studio CEO Steve Janiak. “There’s an incredible amount of potential for this with virtual reality, and Harmonix Music VR is just one way we can deliver on these types of innovative experiences. We can’t wait to hear what people think about this new way to experience the music they love.”

The new project isn’t what I was expecting from Harmonix, given that a unique Rock Band release would be infinitely cooler, but I’m still eager to see how it turns out.

Thank you Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Eurogamer.

Harmonix Developing for Samsung Gear VR

Harmonix are well known for their work on the Rock Band and Dance Central series, and now it looks like the team are working on the newly revealed Samsung Gear VR headset, which has been created in collaboration with Oculus VR.

“Harmonix is developing software for Samsung’s Gear VR,” wrote the studio’s community man Nick Chester on Twitter. “More info soon!”

“I can’t wait for folks to see the crazy project I’ve been on at Harmonix for Samsung’s Gear VR,” added Harmonix lighting specialist Dawn Rivers.

What Harmonix are working on is still a mystery, but they’re the first game developer we’ve heard make any kind of announcement of the Gear VR. While I wouldn’t rule out their Rock Band and Dance Central franchises for the new device, the team are currently working on a range of new titles; A City Sleeps, Fantasia: Music Evolved, Amplitude HD, MIA Chroma and not forgetting Dance Central: Spotlight which launched this week. So one or more of these titles could easily be on their way to the device.

For more information on the Samsung Gear VR, check out our coverage of the device here.

Thank you Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of VRFocus.