Rock Band 2 has once again proven itself to be the preeminent party game this evening. People at the party currently being held in my house have already been on it for hours. And they’re only 15/16 years old, so the fact that they’re addicted to it just as much as many of my thirtysomething friends are, gives an indication as to just how successful developer Harmonix has been in creating a brilliantly accessible music game with a fantastic tracklist.
That the game is so amazing two years on from its initial release makes it even more of a shame how EA, the game’s publisher, has handled the series so abysmally in the UK and mainland Europe. Both Rock Bands 1 and 2 barely bothered the charts due to bollocks-all promotion and a terrible supply chain for the instruments, as well as a silly initial price point. Guitar Hero, meanwhile, despite being more than inferior in terms of note charts, downloadable content and general game design, is much more successful, which is especially harsh since Harmonix created that series in the first place. There is a parallel here with Football Manager, the developers of which, Sports Interactive, abandoned the highly successful Championship Manager series in order to plough its own furrow and create its own franchise. The difference is that Football Manager was marketed well and is now by far the most successful football management game, leaving the game that SI abandoned, Championship Manager, languishing far behind in a perpetual state of crisis.
That this hasn’t happened with Rock Band is truly odd. EA is usually amazing at the marketing biz, but for whatever reason its European campaigns for Rock Band have been pathetic. Here’s hoping that Rock Band 3, due at the end of next month, finally brings the fame and fortune for the series that Harmonix richly deserves. It has a keyboard peripheral. It cannot fail. Unless, of course, EA bafflingly cocks it up again.