One of the keenest examples of Harmonix’s foresight when creating Rock Band was in having a unified downloadable content platform available from day one: the Rock Band Platform. Regardless of game, of which there were many, you could purchase new songs not included on the disc and play those songs in any version of Rock Band that you had. New songs were added on a weekly basis, but those days are soon coming to an end. Harmonix has announced that their last update for Rock Band will fall on April 2 with a song “fitting” of such an event.
The era of the plastic instrument is long passed and Harmonix, even if they were merely adding songs week after week, seems to have met the end of profitability. At its peak in 2008 with the release of the original Rock Band – complete with drums and microphone additions instead of just guitar play – and Activision’s Guitar Hero 3, retailers were loaded to the gills with stacks upon stacks of large, branded instruments. Activision reported that their game made over a billion dollars in a few short months over that holiday. But both franchises have wound down dramatically while Harmonix has focused on Kinect flagship Dance Central.
The easiest purchase I ever made came when Kelly purchased a full Rock Band kit and I picked up a 4000 ($50) Microsoft Point card to acquire new music. Like Miley Cyrus. The Rock Band Network has a ton of music on it, but for all its 4,000 tracks, most are Rock Band Network tracks submitted by independent musicians, the vast majority of which I’d never heard of before. I’m sure that despite the ongoing royalties from the songs, Harmonix had either hit a creative or financial end to keep loading on licensed tracks from the major labels.
Still, it feels like the end of the era. While all the content will still be available for purchase and it’s honestly been since Blitz released that we’ve purchased any new Rock Band content, knowing the end of production is nigh for Rock Band just makes me tear up. A little. Sniff.