Harmonix Drops Struggling Mad Catz for Rock Band 4 Hardware - Report

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Harmonix is making changes as it relates to Rock Band 4 hardware. The Boston-based independent developer today announced a deal with Performance Designed Products (PDP) for Rock Band 4 hardware, seemingly replacing Mad Catz as the developer and distributor of Rock Band 4 guitars and drums.

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"As we look to fully achieve our goal of creating this console generation's category-defining music gaming platform, we need to partner with a truly world-class manufacturer that can operate at the scale that Rock Band requires," Harmonix CEO Steve Janiak said in a statement.

"PDP has a well-deserved reputation for innovation, customer satisfaction, and quality. They have the logistical and technical expertise to support Harmonix’s ambitious plans for the future of Rock Band, with new hardware alongside a major Rock Band 4 feature update coming this fall."

You may recall that when Rock Band 4 was announced last year, Mad Catz's involvement was substantially touted. The fact that Mad Catz is facing tough financial times might explain why Harmonix partnered with PDP. As Game Informer explains, Mad Catz's future performance was tied to the success of Rock Band 4, and when the music game came up short, the company announced a major management shakeup and a lot of layoffs. It is possible that Harmonix bought out Mad Catz's contract, but this is unknown at this point.

We asked Harmonix if today's announcement meant that PDP was effectively replacing Mad Catz, but were instead directed to this FAQ, which states that Mad Catz will continue to sell its Rock Band 4 peripherals, though there is no word on if the company will continue to order shipments.

A Mad Catz representative was not immediately available to comment on the nature of its relationship with Harmonix for Rock Band 4 going forward. We will have more details as they become available.

Although new Mad Catz CEO Karen McGinnis said Rock Band 4 performed well for the latest quarter, sell-through was "lower than originally forecast." This resulted in "higher inventory balances as well as lower margins due to increased promotional activity with retailers," she explained. She went on to say that a "competing product" impacted Rock Band 4's sales, most likely a reference to Guitar Hero Live.

She also stressed that Rock Band 4 is a "multiple-year product" that Mad Catz will continue to invest in and support. Additionally, she noted how Harmonix is treating Rock Band 4 as something of a platform, with new DLC released almost every week and regular content updates keeping the game fresh.

Bear in mind that these comments came in February, however.

The Rock Band 4 FAQ regarding today's news explains that Mad Catz peripherals for Rock Band 4 will continue to work, though there may be a compatibility issue with Xbox One controllers with the PC version. Harmonix is working with Microsoft to ensure that Xbox One instruments work on PC.

Harmonix is currently raising money on Fig for a PC version of Rock Band 4. If the target $1.5 million is raised, Sumo Digital will develop the game and it should be out this fall.

Finally, the FAQ explains that Harmonix and PDP will make announcements at PAX East (April) and E3 (June) regarding a new guitar and drumset made by PDP. You can read the full FAQ to learn more.

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