Harmonix announced that new Rock Band songs will no longer be released on a weekly basis starting in April. This one hurts folks, because I’m a huge fan of Rock Band and the music game genre in general.
I remember playing Rock Band for the first time at my buddy Ian’s house in December of 2007. Everything about it was fun. I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I purchased the set about a month or so later. And I was insatiable, I wanted more songs and my craving was satisfied by downloadable songs, which began as a trickle and eventually became a life giving amount of awesomeness available to download at will. Rock Band 2 provided more tracks on disc and a more fun game aspect, and then there was Rock Band 3 with its fancy Keytar (and this is not taking into consideration the few side games that provided even more songs).
After Rock Band 3 came out, the market hit a down turn. I knew that Rock Band 4 probably wouldn’t happen, since everyone seemed to have lost interest in the music game genre. The first major sign of trouble was when all the big music game boxes went on super clearance. Then later on there wasn’t any music game paraphernalia available to purchase at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. A lot of the blame goes to the industry for producing way too much way too quickly, especially the Guitar Hero franchise. It seemed like every other week there was a new Guitar Hero game. Regardless, there was still new songs available every week via DLC to help curb the Rock Band cravings. Now, it is no more.
No matter what happens, Rock Band also holds a special place for me. I spent a few years in California where I had to work ungodly hours for a horrible company and I was eventually let go during the worst of the recession. During these crappiest of times my ex (Babette) and I could always fire up Rock Band and escape for a little while.
More importantly these days, on date number three my lady came over to my house and sang a bunch of Rock Band songs with me. I knew I had a catch, if she was cool enough to be bold and sing with me and put up with my awful voice after only a couple of dates.
The game was so much fun for me, because it’s one of the last social games where you play with your friends in the same room. Sure you can play Rock Band online, but you get more of the band experience when there’s a singer, lead and bass guitar, and drums all in the same room. Rock Band was all about versatility. You can sing, play a plastic pretend guitar, drums, and later the keytar. And both the drums and keytar are semi-realistic to the point where they could be jumping off points for learning real instruments. It is the ultimate extension of karaoke.
Over the last few years I would not play Rock Band for months, but then I’d return to it, like the comforting arms of a familiar lover. I’d check out the new songs available, most likely buy a few of them, and then to engage in dirty sex with the game before taking another break from it. It was a comforting situation. I always knew Rock Band would be there for me and there would be new songs to download and play.
It’s crazy that Harmonix managed to crank out 4,000 songs before hanging up the towel. I have no interest in playing many of them, but I will probably dig deeper through the catalog now that the selection is limited. I estimate that there are probably around 60 songs I’ll want to get, with perhaps more waiting to be discovered. In the end I’m left with a fairly sizable selection of DLC (as long as they still host it) and that’s something to be thankful for.
The only real sliver of hope here is that the Rock Band Network for the Xbox 360 might still live on for awhile, because that content isn’t done by Harmonix. The down side to that is 99% of those songs are super heavy metal from obscure bands, so if you’re more of a mainstream fan it’s still lights out.
I can only hope that someday that Rock Band will return in the next console generation. However, if that were to happen I’d probably have to buy all new instruments and the songs probably wouldn’t be compatible. Who knows, this is all speculation, but I don’t think I could redo everything at this point. I guess I’ll always need an Xbox 360 with a healthy hard drive full of my songs.
So long Rock Band, maybe we’ll meet again in the future. Until then I’m pouring out a 40 for you.