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Wii RBN DLC for 11/16

Unless noted, all tracks are $2.00

  • The Acacia Strain – “Dr. Doom”
  • Alias Unknown – “Top Back” *
  • Amberian Dawn – “Valkyries”
  • Anti-Flag – “We Are the One” *
  • Ballyhoo! – “Cali Girl” *
  • Circus Circus – “First We Feast, Then We Felony” *
  • The Devil Wears Prada – “Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over”
  • Meshuggah – “Bleed” (FREE MP3 on Amazon right now)
  • Norma Jean – “Leaderless and Self Enlisted”
  • Parry Gripp – “The Girl at the Video Game Store” *

* Denotes $1.00 track.

[Official announcement]

PS3 RBN DLC for 11/16

  • Emperor – “Curse You All Men! (Live)”
  • Family Force 5 – “Radiator”
  • Holy Grail – “Fight to Kill”
  • Sunny Day Real Estate – “In Circles”
  • We the Kings – “Spin”

All songs are $1.99.

[Official announcement]

DLC for 11/16 – The Bee Gees & More!

I wouldn’t believe this if I saw it from a less reputable source, but G4 is announcing that a six song track pack from the Bee Gees will be coming to Rock Band on November 16th. The songs rumored to be actually coming are as follows:

  • Jive Talkin’
  • Night Fever
  • Nights on Broadway
  • Stayin’ Alive *
  • Tragedy
  • You Should Be Dancing

Also joining the fun next week are the following two tracks, as well!

  • B.B. King – The Thrill Is Gone *
  • Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale

* Denotes track is available with Pro-Guitar/Bass charting for an additional $.99.

[Official announcement]

Who is Harmonix’s Best Suitor?

With the massive announcement this morning from corporate parent Viacom that Harmonix is being “expeditiously” sold to one of “several” interested parties, I thought I might throw this post out there for myself and everyone else to add their two cents as too who may be picking up our favorite game developer.

Electronic Arts

While many people are quick to assume that EA will be Harmonix’s savior and rescue them from the clutches of a more sinister owner, I don’t think EA is in the cash-heavy position it once was. If you remember, earlier this year EA announced that they were parting ways with many developers that they once had close ties with, and one franchise that was suspiciously missing from 2011 titles was Rock Band. As Harmonix’s latest Rock Band title fell outside of EA’s most recently quarterly filing, it’s difficult to factor in what impact Rock Band 3 will have on EA’s decision. However, you can’t ignore EA’s language from their most recent Q1 financial filing (filed in August of this year): “…some of our most successful products in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the Rock Band ™ and Left 4 Dead series, were products for which we have distribution rights. Competition for these licenses and rights is intense. If we are unable to maintain these licenses and rights or obtain additional licenses or rights with significant commercial value, our revenues, profitability and cash flows will decline significantly.” Based on this, unless something has changed, EA still places a high value on the Rock Band franchise, and if they can purchase Harmonix at an attractive price, it may make good business sense on their part.

Chances – 5:1


Konami has a long history of experience with music games. Karaoke Revolution and Rock Revolution titles aside, I’m not even going to attempt to count how many Dance Dance Revolution arcade and console titles there are, but I will guess it is somewhere in the 3-digits range. Congrats Activision, there’s someone that has milked a franchise longer than you (but I’ll get to you later)! Konami and Harmonix at one point did work well in the past, creating many of the Karaoke Revolution titles together. However, once Red Octane tapped Harmonix to partner with them on the Guitar Hero franchise, essentially stepping on Konami’s GuitarFreak franchise, the relationship soured. Konami has since been looking elsewhere to produce it’s music game titles, including the most recent Defjam Rapstar. And while Konami’s experience with the karaoke and dance titles has been for the most part positive, their foray into full-band gameplay (Rock Revolution) has been a disaster. While having Harmonix’s expertise would obviously help, I have a hard time seeing Harmonix and Konami kissing and making up so quickly after such a recent and tumultuous litigious episode.

Chances – 50:1


What about Harmonix’s official peripheral maker for the Rock Band franchise? Granted the pricing on the peripherals isn’t what it once was, it’s a common belief that the profit margins on the peripheral market are historically pretty thin. While it would be a noble effort on their part, after looking at their most recent annual filing, they don’t have the cash to put something like this together.

Chances – 1,000:1


In the past several weeks, Harmonix has released not one but two innovative music game titles, and their most recent release was arguably the darling of Microsoft’s new Kinect launch. With confirmation that a sequel to Dance Central is already in the works, Microsoft has a serious and vested interest in making sure such a significant title to their Kinect lineup is not derailed. According to scuttlebutt, Microsoft spent upwards of $500 million on promotion of the Kinect, and since it’s Microsoft, purchasing Harmonix amounts to pocket change to them. And not to satiate the cries of those on other consoles, but Harmonix also has established a healthy relationship with Microsoft due to the success of the Rock Band Network based on Microsoft’s XNA platform for the Xbox 360. Those justifiably positing Microsoft as a front-runner to a Harmonix pickup have mentioned that this would mean an Xbox 360-exclusive Rock Band title, which I have a VERY hard time believing. Again, the rhythm gaming genre is not the cash cow it used to be, and porting it to its competitors’ consoles may be a necessity to justify keeping the Rock Band franchise in the black.

Chances – 10:1


Nintendo hasn’t had the best year financially, and it’s clear that they are committing to working on their new 3DS handheld. Harmonix does not have an extensive background with them, but it’s always a possibility, however I think Nintendo has bigger fish to fry in staying ahead of it’s competitors latest motion controllers.

Chances – 200:1


While it may be an outside chance, there is a chance that Harmonix could go back to working with their first major publisher who helped them with Frequency and Amplitude. However just like Harmonix, things aren’t as rosy for Sony as they once were. Sony is no longer the king of the current generation of consoles like they were when Frequency and Amplitude came out for the PlayStation2. They’ve suffered a number of black eyes with major “scandals” such as the “rootkit” debacle, and have missed the boat on a number of technologies, preferring frequently to push their own proprietary formats versus the generally accepted formats (ATRAC vs. MP3 was a BIG miss) with little success. Thank goodness for Blu-ray, though. While Sony may not be the powerhouse they were in the 80s and 90s, they are still diversified enough that purchasing Harmonix would not be out of the realm of possibility. While it would be an advantageous avenue to promote artists on their label, such as hitmakers like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson along labelmates and Rock Band mainstays Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters, a PS3-exclusive Rock Band platform with such a unique requirement for consumer investment may not be the best venture for Sony.

Chances – 30:1

Seven45 Studios

Remember them? They made PowerGig.

Chances – Not one peep

Warner Brothers

I haven’t seen many people talking about Warner Brothers yet, but from the publisher that brought you the LEGO series of games (including LEGO Rock Band), Mortal Kombat, and Batman: Arkham Asylum, this wouldn’t be their first rodeo. And Warner Brothers also has a very significant artist catalog at their disposal that they wouldn’t mind additional help in promoting, including an oft-requested band that many people seem to MUSE on about (I’m not above a Muse reference… even now).

Chances – 75:1


The evil empire. OK, while many of you out there view an Activision acquisition as the end of the Rock Band franchise, you have to approach this with some optimism. Yes, Activision owns Harmonix’s former franchise and current nemesis Guitar Hero. And yes, Activision doesn’t have the greatest track record with buying up and extending the life cycle of existing studios and franchises.  There is a real possibility that Activision could buy and moth-ball Harmonix, effectively killing the franchise. There is also a real possibility that the Rock Band franchise could be properly nurtured with a healthy transfusion of that Call of Duty/World of Warcraft money put to good use by the folks at Harmonix. Neversoft was able to make a heck of a lot of Guitar Hero games in a short time, and while admittedly the Guitar Hero brand is a bigger name to those unfamiliar with the rhythm gaming genre, if the critics’ scores on the most recent titles of each franchise count for anything, it’s clear where the “future of the genre” lies, and it’s not with “the other guy.” What’s interesting to note is that Activision’s CEO surprisingly DOES have confidence in Harmonix (see here). While the worst-case scenario is that Activision squashes Harmonix and Rock Band to save its flailing Guitar Hero franchise, even from my most unbiased position, I can’t see this happening (mostly because I don’t think it makes the best sense from a shareholder perspective). What I find much more plausible is a combination of the franchises (no more franchise exclusive artists) developed by a properly funded Activision-owned Harmonix. Could this happen? Not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out.

Chances – 4:1


Well this would be interesting, wouldn’t it? Apple sits on a mountain of cash (allegedly around $50 billion with a B), with Steve Jobs sitting on a throne of pure Mastodon ivory sipping a drink made from the tears of unicorns (it taste like cotton candy, they say). While Apple has never seriously been in the business of making games, Harmonix Music Systems (their official name) is not your typical game maker. What an excellent way for Apple to learn about the gaming business than by purchasing someone like Harmonix. While Harmonix may not represent a vein of gold that Apple could necessarily mine outright, Harmonix has had success with TWO major artists that are still holdouts on iTunes: AC/DC and The Beatles. Apple has shown off a Rock Band-like feature in their latest version of Garage Band. Let me daydream for a minute… Imagine a world of an Apple-backed Rock Band platform. Bundled DLC and iTunes purchases. iTunes integration with Rock Band playlists. Ping integration with Rock Band. RBN integration with Garage Band. While this would be a match made in music gaming heaven, it’s all a matter of convincing His Turtleneck-Wearing Emminence at Apple to give it a shot.

Chance – 40:1

I’m sure there are many places and facts that I’ve left out, so add your thoughts in the comments below! Let’s keep it civil, though, both at the author (the above is a speculative opinion based on the handful of facts I’m privy to), and at your follow commenters.

BREAKING: Viacom to Sell Harmonix

Details are still scant right now, but according to Viacom’s third quarter financial 10-Q filing, Viacom will be selling Rock Band maker Harmonix.

Watch this space as we update with more info.

UPDATE 1: According to this link (via Adam in the comments), Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman commented:

Our decision to exit this business strategy is to focus on what we do best, and that’s creating world class entertainment. The console games business requires expertise we don’t have. For us, this is all about focus.

He also comments that he expects the sale of Harmonix to be completed “expeditiously,” though he offered no specifics on price or the prospective buyers the company is in negotiations with.

UPDATE 2: John Drake let me know that there is a thread over in the RockBand.com official forums that is reserved for discussing what is going on with this. He writes the following:

Hi Guys:

We’ve seen a lot of questions pop up in response to Viacom’s statements this morning regarding their intention to sell Harmonix. We’ve posted this thread to respond to those questions. Please keep your forum conversations regarding this matter in this thread. We’ll check in throughout the day as we’re able.

This morning’s announcement does not affect the ongoing work at the studio as we continue to support our existing franchises, Rock Band and Dance Central. As stated earlier, Viacom is in discussions with several potential buyers and will continue to fully support the business until a sale is completed.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please post them in this thread. If you’re a member of the media with inquiry, you can reach out to us at press@harmonixmusic.com. (Please don’t email this address if you’re not from a press outlet).

UPDATE 3: John updated the RockBand.com forum post with this:

Regarding potential publishers, it’s premature to discuss specific publishers at this time, though we look forward to working with Viacom to find the best home for our studio. Please keep speculation about that to a minimum in this conversation.

Many of you have asked about DLC. To be clear, our earlier statement that we will continue to support our existing franchises holds true and work at the studio is not affected by this announcement. RB DLC will continue unabated. We’re excited to confirm that The BeeGees are our next DLC pack.

Some of you have been chiming in about our different partners and what this announcement means for [the Fender Squier/Mad Catz Hardware/EA Distribution]. Those partnerships are unaffected by this announcement with regards to existing titles.

Most importantly, the Rock Band and Dance Central will continue to be worked on at Harmonix for the foreseeable future. We’re not leaving them behind.

More to come!

NOTE: If you find anything else that should be included in this post, please use the CONTACT US form at the top so I can update promptly. Thanks!


Diary of the Fairly Experienced: Pro-Guitar (Part I)

That's me in the background. I pretty myself up for serious Rock Band gigs.

As many of you know, Jeremy has been bringing you the details on his journey through playing Pro-Keys on Rock Band 3 without any prior experience with a keyboard. I wanted to do something similar to this, but with the Pro-Guitar peripheral.

There’s only one issue with that idea; I’ve been playing real guitar for over a decade. So, there goes that idea.

I still wanted to provide a detailed description of my journey, however, so I thought it might be a good idea to take a different spin on this feature. Instead of chronicling how well the game does at teaching you the instrument, I wanted to take a multi-part look at how the Fender Mustang Pro-Guitar controller can utilize my existing skill to make a worthwhile gameplay experience. Maybe it will even teach me a thing or two, who knows? Join me, won’t you, as I delve deep into the magical and demoralizing world of Pro-Guitar.

Just so you have a little bit of background on me, I received my first guitar in middle school, a generic acoustic guitar. Though the body was made of cheap wood and the strings had a tendency to kick out of tune due to the lack of quality material in the neck, the instrument continues to serve me well today. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a decent size collection of actual guitars, probably headlined by a custom-made, one of a kind Strat. I also have the You Rock Guitar, which is definitely a cool little device to just mess around on.

As far as performances go, I’ve played acoustic shows in front of hundreds of seated spectators. My pieces have contained everything from re-imagined versions of old spiritual songs to acoustic renderings of Velvet Revolver. I’ve also played in jam bands, rock bands, and cover bands with five guitarists. In those bands, I’ve played electric guitar, bass guitar and performed both backing and lead vocals.

Alright, enough about me and my irrelevant experience. Let’s get down to the part you guys actually care about (and I use that term loosely): the experience I’ve had so far with the Fender Mustang Pro-Guitar.

Upon receiving the package, I noticed one thing: the box is incredibly small for what you would expect. If you’ve ever seen a real guitar in person (what a stupid qualifier to this sentence), you know the sheer size and mass of the instrument. Perhaps that’s why I was slightly taken aback when I saw a box that was smaller than the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Guitar Bundles you see everywhere.

When I opened it up, the body appeared to be the size of a normal Fender Mustang, but obviously the neck is slightly shorter than that of most real guitars. The method that Madcatz used to map the buttons caught me a little off-guard, to be honest.

Since I'm the ultimate gentleman, I choose to rock out in henley shirts and khaki shorts

Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention when the guitar was announced, but for some reason I was expecting the frets to be laid out along a touch pad, much like the You Rock Guitar, but was surprised to see that each and every fret was actually a tiny button. This wasn’t any type of issue, but it was different than my expectations going in.

So, considering I’ve been playing real guitar for 10 years and plastic guitar for four years, I decided to boot up with “The Hardest Button to Button” on expert. Though the chart is the easiest in the game and I consider myself great at playing arpeggios, I failed the song in the most humorous fashion possible. I was just glad I didn’t catch that one on tape.

So, backing up, considering I’ve been playing real guitar for 10 years, plastic guitar for four years and Pro-Guitar for five minutes, I quickly navigated my way to the tutorials. My first success! I had mastered the d-pad on the controller.

Check back soon as I chronicle my adventures through the training modes and I take on Pro-Guitar career mode! How does it go? Well howabout you take the following tweet as an indication.

See you next time!