Rock Band iOS App “No Longer Playable” After May 31

While the recent news about the DLC outage finally ending for all users, it looks like another form of Rock Band may be coming to a more permanent end in the near future. It recently came to our attention that the Rock Band iOS app will “no longer be playable” after May 31st, according to an in-game pop up message when loading the app (see below).

Despite the impending fate of the app, there are no indications that a similar situation will be occurring with the more recent Rock Band Reloaded app. We’ve reached out to @EAMobile, the developer for the app, to comment on why the game is going away. We have a few theories, but would still like a clear and official explanation from them.

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117 Responses to “Rock Band iOS App “No Longer Playable” After May 31”

  • Cb says:

    Two questions:

    1) How can they can disable this thing I bought?

    2) Why are they still selling it right now?

    loopychew Reply:

    Co-signed. I bought this game; I bought the DLC; there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to play it, even if it isn’t available for sale anymore.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Only now is it occurring to me that the licensing was set up in that the songs were only available for a specific time. Ugh.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    My guess for number one is that some sort of licensing term ran out, and they just let the deal expire rather than renewing it. The app came out in October 2009, so they may have had a 2 1/2 year (ish) licensing agreement.

    For your second question, it’s kinda shady. You don’t know that the app is no longer playable until after you’ve purchased, which kinda sucks for people that buy the app now.

    charliesmile Reply:

    I don’t blame HMX for this, I blame EA.

    BackScatter25 Reply:

    I’m happy to blame both of them for this obvious short-sight.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Why, when Harmonix had nothing to do with it?

    BackScatter25 Reply:

    I certainly hold EA (as the developer and publisher) more accountable for this, but since Harmonix licenses out the Rock Band-brand then it doesn’t seem fair to say they had “nothing” to do with it.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Who owned the Rock Band franchise when the EA apps were developed?

    BackScatter25 Reply:

    From the App: “ROCK BAND (c) 2010 Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Harmonix, Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Rock Band Mobile and all related titles and logos are trademarks of Harmonix Music Systems, Inc., a MTV Networks company. … (MTV leagalese)…. Published by Electronic Arts Inc. under license from Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.”

    RockBandAide Reply:

    OK… almost there… who owned Harmonix Music Systems, Inc., a MTV Networks company?

    BackScatter25 Reply:

    Yes, Viacom. Thank you for the condescension.

    So you believe that Harmonix had literally no control over the Rock Band brand from 2006 – 2011?

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Do you think they wanted to make Green Day Rock Band?

    Dein Bär Reply:

    The interesting feature of the 8-bit era is, that this stuff ended up getting preserved quite well.
    Simple architectures, no networking involved.

    Newer stuff will only be available for long, if the companies involved dare to open source their code and non-licensed data,
    like for example id Software did.

  • outphase says:

    It’s possible this came down to a licensing agreement for the songs used in the game. Maybe they had a limited time deal where they could use the songs in the game in exchange for a lower licensing fee. That is of course speculation as I have no knowledge as to how HMX negotiates their licensing deals.

  • Kyahx says:

    Seems like a pretty crap move regardless of the reason. I paid full price for their game, bought DLC, and even ponied up for the seperate iPad version.

    Not a happy customer…

    RockBandAide Reply:

    FYI, there are two separate Rock Band apps: “Rock Band” and “Rock Band Reloaded.” As far as I know, the only iPad specific Rock Band app was “Rock Band Reloaded,” which remains unaffected, so you might be safe.

    Kyahx Reply:

    Oh I know, it’s just the principle of the thing :) Every other app I’ve purchased (even apps that were later removed like iDOS) can still be re-downloaded and used on any of my devices, so it’s pretty frustrating to see EA pull a move like this.

    Alan Reply:

    remains unaffected… for now. until EA decides you are no longer allowed to play it either.

  • John P says:

    This was all released before the HMX – Viacom split. My guess is, this never left the Viacom side of things and they’re just dumping it now.

    –John

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Harmonix doesn’t have much to do with this app. This was developed by EAMobile.

    If there’s a single PENNY of profit they can make with this, they wouldn’t just dump it. I’m convinced it’s a licensing issue (one that they may have known about ever since it was released).

  • Nick says:

    This makes me wonder if they are capable of telling me I can’t use my 800+ DLC songs on my 360 at some point in the future. Or patch the game to lock out on-disc songs (thus forcing off-line play to play some songs).

    On one hand, we’ve seen this with songs like that one Oasis song and Heir Kommt Alex. On the other hand, if they were going to do something like that, we’d have seen those songs on RB1 and RB2 get “locked” out on the disc as well. this is worrying though.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    This might not be an entirely separate issue from what Harmonix is doing with the DLC outages and the publishing agreements. I’m much more confident in Harmonix doing the “right thing” versus EA (and EAMobile), to be honest.

    Nick Reply:

    I understand what you are saying, I have more faith in Harmonix than EA any day. But- I also know that contracts and licensing is very deeply incorporated in this, and I’m thinking long term. What happens in a few years when we’re in another console cycle, and Harmonix has decided to let the licenses expire (it’s going to happen eventually). Assuming they are still capable of putting out patches for the games at that point, can they and will they lock out songs when the licenses do expire?

    RockBandAide Reply:

    I think a bigger fear is wondering if the consoles will allow DLC to transfer over to the next gen. I’m not holding my breath on that.

    Nick Reply:

    Neither am I. All the more reason that I’m wondering whether they could or would lock us out via a patch at some point. I have no problem playing older consoles, I do regularly, but this is a very new situation we are facing with this console and its end-of-cycle period.

    The obvious solution is to just play offline, but you’d have to make sure you never took the last patch, but had the previous one. And never reset the cache on the console (unless you’re ok having a completely unpatched game). At some point they are going to turn off the online, unless its done without a server. Although the leaderboards are likely on a central server somewhere.

    I’m sure all of this is an open topic in the management at Harmonix.

    samjjones Reply:

    I have no intention of moving off of Xbox 360 in the next 5-10 years. I’ll just play the game offline, so long as the 1000+ songs that I paid for continue to work.

    uhhu Reply:

    If DLC aren’t transferable to the next gen console/games, I’m pretty sure they’re going to lose lots of customers, me included. Who’s gonna repay for 200 songs they had on their 360 ? not me.

    If that was ever to happen, I’ll just stop playing those musical games.

    xX666Xx Reply:

    Considering that I’ve spent £300+ on RB DLC, I will be EXTREMELY PISSED OFF if it doesn’t transfer to the Wii U!

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Considering Nintendo’s stance on DLC, you should probably prepare yourself for the worst.

    Dein Bär Reply:

    I think Harmonix, with their strategy of Rock Band the platform, will do everything to move DLC to the next gen.
    Not so sure about the console providers / gaming network operators.
    We might end up with migration fees.

    Toad3000 Reply:

    Wouldn’t the ball be more in HMX’s court on this, to make sure whatever future games may come out on next-gen systems are backwards compatible with the existing coding for the DLC/export songs? As much as the PSN store could use an upgrade, it’s already been utilized for PS3/PSP/Vita, is there any reason the storefront itself would change for the PS4 (or whatever it’s going to be called)? So I know this is a big assumption and may be horribly naive, but I would think it’s quite possible we’d be able to download our DLC to the new platform, whether PS4, Xbox 720, etc. Or, hell, just transfer the files manually.

    Man, there’s a lot of conjecture in there. :P

    RockBandAide Reply:

    I’m not sure how it would be. First of all, this is all assuming the consoles have backwards compatibility (which didn’t last too long in this generation, if at all). Harmonix doesn’t have the luxury of dictating to ONE console how their online store and cross-generation downloadable content is dictated, much less uniformity across THREE different consoles. I’m sure they will fight for that functionality, but Harmonix’s DLC catalog is unique when compared to all DLC, and it’s a battle that will only be won if the consoles can make a profit from it.

    Mike Reply:

    I’m not holding my breath on Wii DLC moving to the Wii U – but if Harmonix tried hard enough, I’m sure the Wii U iteration of Rock Band (if there is one) could be tailored to use the files saved on the Wii SD cards we’ve been using for so long now…

    I’m a firm believer in “If HMX can do something, they will” – even if it means side-stepping The Big N’s restrictions.

    Otherwise, wait 3 months to get a Wii U and mod it…

  • Kyle says:

    The game is listed with a bunch of other EA mobile games on their service updates page, stating that the online functionality will be turned off May 28:

    http://www.ea.com/1/service-updates

    No idea if this is related or the same thing as the May 31st no longer playable message, though.

  • So, EA is taking away an app that I payed for AND bought DLC for and I don’t get my money back?

    I wonder why they were voted the worst game company in America…

    Nick Reply:

    Correction, worst company in America. They beat out Bank of America for that title.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    As much as I think EA seems to do nothing but make missteps lately, Bank of America is on a whole other plane of disgust that EA will never be able to reach. Getting screwed over for a $4.99 app is nothing compared to losing your home. Read this if you dare: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314

    Nick Reply:

    Yeah, as a whole it really showed where our focus, which is really out of touch with where it should be. I’m a gamer, and yeah I hate EA, but I also pay enough attention to whats going on in the country/world to know that some gaming company being the worst company in America is ridiculous. Games aren’t a necessity, unlike banking or housing, etc. And for so many people to hate a game company with admittedly poor business practices, more than a company that actively screws its customers and had a hand in the 2008 recession and takes away peoples HOMES, is mind-boggling. It was a seriously WTF poll. But, it is what it is.

    Icnfde Reply:

    Out of touch? BoA had already won the award 3 times. EA was the only business on that list with something to lose, and it shows.

    If anyone is out of touch, it was EA, who had their rebuttal prepared only minutes after the announcement went live (as if they knew they were going to win it) only to namedrop other business who have also won the award previously, making them look even dumber than before.

    EA Games has definitely destroyed lives of the developers and hard working people that put their time into that company (Read: EASpouse), not as many as BoA, but the numbers are most definitely there. Let the governments sort out BoA, let us consumers sort out EA Games.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    They have? My understanding was that BoA hasn’t won the award at all yet (from Consumerist, anyway), because companies are taken out of the running in the future if they have won. I could be wrong, though.

    Nick Reply:

    Well, when the voting is down to two companies, and yours is one of them, there is a pretty good chance you’ll get it.

    And while I’m not defending EA in any way, besides screwing over some good game companies, franchises, and otherwise completely optional consumer goods, the only people they have really screwed over are the people who work for them (read: EASpouse). And quite frankly, you aren’t required to work for them, they could have quit at any time and found employment elsewhere.

    Bank of America, on the other hand, had a hand in screwing over pretty much everyone, client or not- not their employees working there by choice. People who have nothing to do with BofA have been impacted by their decisions and actions.

    I’m just pointing out that its an interesting position when the people have decided that a company that provides a non-essential entertainment product somehow was a worse company than one that actively takes peoples homes, decides to have fees to use debit cards (and changes their mind), and charges interest rates designed to keep people in debt which really amounts to usury. If the entertainment product company is worse than the one actively screwing people over, then its a clear sign the recession (that the 2nd place worst company had a part in creating), must finally be over.

    Dein Bär Reply:

    EA could be the subject of a tragedy, like the evil empire from Star Wars.
    I still remember their famous ad:

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/04/eas-software-artists.html

    When they started they stylized themselves as a cool gang not of software developers, but software artists. What a way down.

  • Razputin217 says:

    I’m guessing that the same thing will happen to “Rock Band Reloaded” in the not too distant future.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    I have an ominous feeling you’re right. EA “got away with it” in the first app without anyone the wiser, so they probably did it again the second time. I guess we’ll find out sometime mid-next year, if the licensing windows are the same.

  • eron says:

    Yeah, and i’m still waiting for the Android version…

    coggy9 Reply:

    You are not going to see it…it was released as bloatware on the HTC Thunderbolt ….never seen it since then.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    Really? I thought there already was an Android version…

    http://www.rockbandaide.com/10561/rock-band-mobile-on-android-showed-off-at-ces/

  • expertwinSH says:

    And not a single fuck was given that day.

  • xX666Xx says:

    Surely someone will find a way to hack through it.

  • Jim says:

    Yo ho ho anyone?

  • Ritchie_Blackmoore says:

    HA! I just fired it up on my iPod to get the message which I did and then I got another message that new DLC is available to purchase… Do I want to go to the store? “They” should at least pay us the courtesy of disabling the money-grabbing notifications, if only to try to keep some self respect.

  • WarpCrow says:

    I don’t and never will own an iOS device because of this very sort of thing, among others, but can’t you just jailbreak your phone or something so you can continue to play it locally, or is it an online-only thing?

    Ritchie_Blackmoore Reply:

    I’m pretty sure the disabling of the app was coded into the game from the get-go and jailbreaking the iOS device won’t stop that.

    RockBandAide Reply:

    I do think that the disabling of the game was planned from the beginning, but you would be surprised what the jailbreakers can do.

    Nick Reply:

    It wouldn’t be particularly difficult to hack it to play the game. Jailbreaking the iphone alone wont cut it, but hacking the executable would work. Assuming anyone cares enough to actually do it.

  • Thedave says:

    There should be no surprise about this it’s fucking EA!

  • BackScatter25 says:

    @drock5k We’re reaching out to EA to see what the situation is.— Harmonix Music (@Harmonix) May 2, 2012

  • Dr. John Zoidberg says:

    You’re customer relations are bad and you should feel bad!

    RockBandAide Reply:

    http://i.qkme.me/3p32gz.jpg
    ;)

  • ninjasweetheart says:

    So very glad EA didn’t buy Harmonix. I seriously want nothing to do with that company.

  • Eric says:

    To be completely honest I didn’t know this game existed. Thanks for sharing and explaining what this actually means to those who have bought the app.

  • Pood LeFache says:

    Hmmmmm, reinstalled this after a long while and found that none of the previously available song packs (except the free ones) are in the store anymore. Which means I can’t restore the purchases of the songs I bought. Lame.

    Of course, I haven’t played this game in eons, so I suppose I can’t be too broken up about it, either…

  • Stephen says:

    Apparently EA changed their mind and someone posted a picture on Reddit.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/t4jti/looks_like_someone_listened_thanks_ea/

    Craig M. Reply:

    Yeah. IGN got a response from EA as well.

    http://uk.wireless.ign.com/articles/122/1224184p1.html

  • sigismund says:

    I hope the guys in EA understand the meaning of “class action lawsuit”….