When Rock Band Network was announced in July of 2009, the topic was met with a lot of excitement and hype. “Rock Band Network” skyrocketed into the “Trending Topics” of Twitter and remained there for days, and on the popular website, Scorehero, there were several hundred posts made about the topic within the first week of it’s announcement.
The discussions were growing and the speculation was swirling at a rapid pace, but few answers were readily available to answer the hundreds of questions that popped up immediately.
It’s been nearly six months since the initial announcement of Rock Band Network. Information has been slowly, but surely drizzling out, particularly with Harmonix’s Rock Band Network Creators Site. Harmonix has also released several press releases concerning the Rock Band Network.
John Drake, Program Manager of Rock Band Network, claims that Harmonix could not be more excited about the accomplishments the series has already achieved, but is really looking forward to the launch of Rock Band Network and all that it has to offer to the series.
“Harmonix has always been interested in developing ways of getting music fans more great content for their music rhythm games,” Drake said.” In fact, our downloadable catalog of more than 1,000 songs available shows that we’re committed to having the most quality content available for any title!”
Drake also claims that the origins of Rock Band Network are older than the most popular entry of the series, Rock Band 2 itself.
“Having user driven tools is something that has been kicked around at Harmonix for quite awhile and we’ve been at work on the Rock Band Network in one form or another since before the launch of Rock Band 2,” Drake said. “As a company of musicians, we’re excited to put together a program that can work for bands of all sizes and genres!”
Reaper is the official tool of Rock Band Network and weapon of choice for charters
Just because the Rock Band Network was created so that virtually any unknown band can get their music on Rock Band doesn’t mean that the store will only be filled with unknown bands and local heroes.
“The unparalleled music team at MTV Games has been working with artists of all shapes and sizes. In addition to the great cadre of indie bands that have lined up to put their music into Rock Band, we also have amazing content from forward-thinking well-known artists,” Drake said. “Some bands we can confirm include Flight of the Conchords, Evanescence, All That Remains, Ministry, The Shins and The Stills. And these are just some of the great bands headed to RBN. (…) If fans want to get their hands on the content early and check out new artists as well, they should head to creators.rockband.com when it goes live and sign up to be a playtester!”
Another phenomenon that has occurred within the Rock Band Network community is the equivalent of record labels for Rock Band Network popping up everywhere. The biggest names of these charting companies have signed fairly popular acts. The way the companies work is that they will receive most of the profits made from the sales, but in return for that money, the artists will receive the publicity that comes with being in Rock Band and having a fully-functioning “record label” backing them. John Drake claims Harmonix was actually somewhat surprised at the initial reaction from both the fans and charting companies.
“It was certainly a happy surprise to see how quickly companies like Rhythm Authors and Rock Gamer Studios led the foray into the wilderness of RBN,” Drake said. “It seems like a natural fit for companies like this to help forward-thinking but less MIDI savvy bands/labels get their music into Rock Band. We’re pumped to see where things go as smaller companies join in!”
Amidst all of the hype and excitement, there was plenty of concern coming from the Rock Band community. Many speculated that once Rock Band Network was put into place, that Harmonix would slack on the amount of official weekly DLC since fans would be getting so much content from Rock Band Network.
The Rock Band Network store will look much like the “Song Select” screen
“Rock Band Network is a complementary part of the Harmonix/MTV Games music strategy. Players can expect to see a lot of great content from RBN, but they can also still count on us to be the category leader in week-to-week music content,” said Drake.”Looking ahead at our internal schedule, 2010 is going to be a great year for Rock Band DLC of all kinds!”
Another huge concern from the fans was that Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii owners would be left out in the cold due to the fact that thus far, only the Xbox 360 has the ability to harness the infrastructure of the Rock Band Network, thanks mainly to the XNA Creators Club. While Harmonix has already announced that Playstation 3 and Wii will receive some of the better Rock Band Network tracks alongside regular DLC, John Drake claims that Harmonix hopes to expand on the overall functionality on those two consoles as time goes on.
“We’re lucky to have such a great backend system in place with Microsoft’s XNA infrastructure. That being said, We know that (just like bands) there are Rock Band fans of all types who deserve great DLC. In fact, we just confirmed that the latest RB2 system update we’re releasing will bring over the new Rock Band Network storefront to the PS3!” Drake said. “The current plan will be for the selected RBN content we bring over to live in that separate RBN store as our PS3 library grows over time. We’re also looking into ways to bring sections of the Rock Band Network store functionality over to the PS3 and Wii platforms in the future.”
Even though Rock Band Network seems like a very complex idea, Drake claims that the reason behind the idea all boils down to the core philosophy of Rock Band and why Harmonix started making music-based games in the first place.
“The core philosophy of Harmonix is to provide music fans the joy that comes from playing an instrument. The Rock Band Network helps expand the amount of great music we have, which expands the musical exploration fans have already found in Rock Band and Rock Band 2,” Drake said.
Even though all of that past information is key for many gamers, the big question concerning the release date of Rock Band Network remains largely unanswered, but Drake will confirm that Harmonix hopes to get the tools for song submissions public within the next few weeks.
“It’s an organic/rolling process at this point,” Drake said. “We’re actively aggregating great songs through the website and are hoping to turn the public facing side of that on in the next few weeks. We’ll open the Rock Band Network store front as soon as we have the pipeline kinks all worked out on Creators.RockBand.com.”
With all that said, John Drake wanted to assure fans of the series that Harmonix would continue to provide a top-level experience from all angles of the industry.
“Harmonix and MTV Games are the industry leaders in developing music games and there are great things planned for the future both with Rock Band Network and for the rest of the Rock Band franchise.”
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