Licensing to blame for Aussie Rock Band delay: Harmonix

Music licenses for Rock Band store caused year-long release delay in Australia; Harmonix compares release to iTunes Store hassles.

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Australians haven't had much luck with Rock Band so far, with the popular four-person rhythm game still not on store shelves despite being out for almost a year in the US and almost six months in Europe. The game has been finally dated for local release on November 7, which is cold comfort considering its sequel--Rock Band 2--has already been released stateside. While the companies behind the game--MTV, Harmonix, and distributor EA--have kept quiet on exactly why Rock Band has been so delayed down under, it hasn't stopped pundits (including Red Octane head and Guitar Hero cocreator Charles Huang) from assuming manufacturing headaches with Rock Band's peripherals as the reason for the long release lag.

It seems manufacturing may not be the sole cause, however. In an interview with GameSpot AU, Harmonix's Dan Teasdale (who is the lead designer on Rock Band 2) pushed the blame to difficulties in obtaining music licenses for different regions. Teasdale compared the situation to Apple's hassles with launching a local version of the iTunes store (the Australian iTunes store launched in October 2005, almost two years after its launch in the US).

"[The Rock Band Music Platform releases] new songs every week from a wide range of artists, which really adds depth, breadth, and choice into people’s music libraries. Unfortunately for everyone outside the US, this is the same thing that delayed us from releasing for a few months. Just like sorting out music licenses delayed Apple from releasing iTunes in Australia for a while, it also hit us in establishing the Rock Band Music Platform in Australia. The good news is we’ve sorted out all of those issues, and we’re ready to not only unleash over 500 songs onto everyone this Christmas, but also release our future titles like the AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack within weeks of our US releases," he said.

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