Harmonix forms Rock Band

New game from Guitar Hero maker to feature guitar, drum, microphone peripherals, master recordings from major labels; game due on PS3, 360 later this year.


Nobody has rocked the game industry quite like Harmonix Music Systems. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based game company is focused squarely on music and rhythm games, and it has churned out Guitar Hero, one of the most popular new franchises of any genre, with the aid of publisher RedOctane.

The band broke up somewhat abruptly at the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo when RedOctane, which owned the rights to the Guitar Hero name, was purchased by Activision for $100 million. A few months later, Harmonix was bought outright by MTV Networks, and at GDC 2007, EA announced that it would be distributing the next Harmonix-made game through its EA Partners program.

While it was known that the Guitar Hero franchise would live on through Activision-owned Neversoft, Harmonix has kept the volume down on its next project...until now.

Harmonix, MTV Networks, and Electronic Arts today officially announced Rock Band. The music-based game will do Guitar Hero two better by featuring guitar, drum, and microphone peripherals, proving rock and roll requires more than just someone who can handle the axe. Rock Band is scheduled to be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this holiday season.

Like Guitar Hero, Rock Band will feature licensed music. Thanks largely in part to its new relationship with MTV, Harmonix was able to wrangle multitrack master recordings from the catalogs of some of the biggest record labels in the business. On board to offer access to their portfolios are EMI Music Publishing, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Hollywood Records, and Warner Chappell Music. It is currently unknown how much from each music publisher will be available to Harmonix, but the emphasis going forward will be to work with the artists themselves.

Little is known about the gameplay at this time, but online interaction will be vital to the experience. Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos told GameSpot, "In addition to the music that ships with the game, we have very big plans for building out a huge library of online expansion content." Rigopulos also said that some content will "very likely" be free.

Cowbell players need not apply.
Cowbell players need not apply.

As for the controllers, the guitar peripheral will control the bass and lead guitar portions, a microphone will be used for vocals, and a drum peripheral will provide the beats. Rigopulos says the drum is "a really impressive piece of hardware. I'm a drummer myself, so we weren't going to settle for anything less than something that felt like a real instrument." Harmonix is still working out the details of how the peripherals will ship.

When asked if wannabe rock stars would be able to go online and seek out other musicians to play with, Rigopulos excitedly said, "Absolutely. The whole experience is actually about reaching out to other people and forming a band together and that collaborative experience...to form a band and rise from obscurity to fame."

The team behind Rock Band sees the project as more than just a simple game; they see it as a new platform for experiencing music. "We're at the very front of what will be a major transformation in music entertainment," said Rigopulos. "I really believe that four or five years from now, this kind of active participation in music making is going to be how people expect to experience the music that they love. Rock Band is a huge first step in that direction, but the sky's the limit in terms of the span of genres we eventually intend to reach with this."

For more on Rock Band, read GameSpot's Q&A with Rigopulos and EA Partners vice president David DeMartini.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for eljono

HAHAHA awsome replies to this thread. one person is "EA Sucks but MTV is pretty cool" and the next poster sys" Well I think itll be good bc of EA but MTV sucks" Seriously , EA is a **** huge corp. b/c they own. Madden nuked all other football games and other games followed suit. Don't hate on them just becuz they throw money at smaller companies. Personnally I dont give a rat's ass who does what..I think the idea is frikking kick ass and I can't wait to drink a few cold ones and rock out with some people.

Avatar image for NDegree

Men I love there idea & I think this game will rock. "I Wanna Rock"

Avatar image for bob7577

UGGGGHHHH!!!! this game sounded pretty freakin sweet until i found out that EA was producing it, Harmonix can make a great game, MTV maybe, but EA is just gonna throw yet another potentially great game down the freakin toilet, way to freakin go EA! :P

Avatar image for Sw1tched

How are they going to do the drums? hmmm i play drums....this is gonna be bad i think

Avatar image for gtrfreak182

Well..the idea is cool and I know EA will find a way to make this amazing, but I do have my doubts: 1. EA is an amazing company but MTV sucks and I can't imagine them working together 2. Being a drummer myself I really don't think they can emulate a drum set as well as a guitar it will probably be really pathetic or ridiculously overpriced 3. After using songs like Free Bird in the Guitar Hero games I can't imagine that they come up with a descent song list without repeating songs seen in the past I know either way I'm going to wind up buying this or Guitar Hero III so I hope this comes out good either way I'm still going to be rocking in my band. ECS for life :P

Avatar image for nguvu

I think this will be pretty sweet...they have the resources to pull this off. Can't wait.

Avatar image for lovermanxxx

i wanna bang a drum!!!!!

Avatar image for Hoxist

Mixed feelings about this. I LOVE the GH series, but MTV could really mess this up. Sweet idea, and I'd probabaly buy it no matter what the price...but it all depends on the songlist. If MTV messes it up...DEATH.

Avatar image for ParasiteArtist

This seems exciting. Of course you know it is going to cost way too much money. I hope EA doesn't get too much of their grubby mitts on the game though. Seems too early to tell if this game will be good; I hope it is. Let's see what happens in the next few months with this.

Avatar image for Bonzeemer

Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription, is more cowbell!

Avatar image for worldind913

not Guitar Hero wannabe, its made by Harmonix, the people who brought us the orginal Guitar Hero, I say it will be better, like GH but with story and stuff behind it

Avatar image for MichaeltheCM

Guitar Hero wannabe

Avatar image for Jsen

well, it definitely wont tank, but its not gonna get nearly as high as GH3 without PS2 and Wii versions

Avatar image for RangerG

OMG EA is in on this! Well another glitchy subpar game here we come. My dislike of EA came from BF2 and 2142, a fun game filled with glitches they can't even fix!

Avatar image for R0cketToRussia1

My brother also works at EA and has the full version of the game and he says it is Freaking awesome!!11!!111!1-00-3493=-=3439!!11 God I hate people who say **** like that.

Avatar image for eaglehombre

When me and my friends get together with our wives and kids, everybody enjoys watching or playing these music games. Whether we play Guitar Hero or Karaoke Revolution, everybody has a good time as well as being entertained. What's nice is that now my 6 year old daughter or my wife can now sing while I "jam" on the guitar or drums. And for those who sarcastically say "play a real instrument" or "form a real band," I say get a life. It's just a game. That's like saying instead of playing Grand Theft Auto, you should be out stealing cars and shooting people. These games never claim that after playing you will gain the skills protrayed in the game.

Avatar image for Georgew69

WHAT!!!!! I don't have a PS3 or XBox 360. Why don't they release it on PS2 as well. They'll make a bigger profit doing that. I don't wanna buy an XBox 360 or PS3 because I don't have the money. Also I can't be asked to get one

Avatar image for MACMALLEON

My Bro Works at EA. He got to play an early build of the game. He said it was FREAKIN AWESOME....Yes you use the Guitar Hero Controller

Avatar image for Dill-Man

does anyone know if you can use the guitar hero controller as the guitar so i dont have to be yet another stupid guitar to play this game, not including the drums

Avatar image for DrCLos

Can't wait! But with all those peripherals my only big question is... How much?!

Avatar image for YoUnG1991

This game looks amazing but before getting my mated round 2 play with im gonna try and play all instruments included on my own :D

Avatar image for _Sam_

I should probably play Guitar Hero before I check this one out

Avatar image for Chameleon1990

to all the people who say "why don't you just learn how to play a real guitar?", what do you say when you play a game that uses a lightgun, or an FPS?

Avatar image for tylert20

Don't mind the drum, but screw the mic, this ain't American Idol. Look if video games start making everything, than just form a real band with real instruments, I understand the Guitar part of the video game, am looking foward to the drum, that can be fun, but the microphone addition is retarded.

Avatar image for tidyspidey

"vf21x bla bla bla!!! The guitar hero franchise wasextremely cool but is now over. As for this RockBand game, the time has also past. Also, who will bother playing a game with so many pheripherals??? PLEASE!!!! Let's get back to real gaming again already!!" Yeah, OK vf21x..... you're obviously SO game, you turd wireless controllers and eat memory cards for breakfast, right? No-one is impressed by so called "real" or "hardcore" gamers gesturing their prowess and waving their willies in the air for attention. If you just don't like the idea of the game, then say so.... don't try and sugar-coat it like only someone with your uber-gaming experience could possibly understand or give a comment worth a heck. It's about as impressive as a sheet of lined paper. And just as common.

Avatar image for melbourneboy

well if you couldn't this this coming your dog is dead and your white stick is broken! We already have guitar hero (fantastic gameto play smashed thinking your actually musical), as well the singstar franchise and the drum games in arcades. This is just gonna be one big tasty musical package!

Avatar image for pmpinoy65

"Why don't you play a real guitar instead". I don't like it when people try to compare it with actual playing music. I've been playing an electric guitar for awhile now and its no comparision. For lack of better words, these plastic controller guitars are toys. They are fun toys to play with. I enjoy playing both my controller and real guitar. You don't have to play a real guitar to enjoy these kinds of music game.

Avatar image for aldrenar47

If youre going to bother with all that, why not form an actual band? :)

Avatar image for robowarriorx

As per before, yes, I realise it would be April first to be a joke, but considering that GS doesn't update on sundays.....At any rate, I suppose its possible, but I have my doubts. We shall see what comes of this, but as I said before, it sounds to good to be true...

Avatar image for rokkuman09

Guitar Hero with drums and other peripherals too? This is going to be awesome, it's like several music rhythm games in one. But I bet it won't be cheap because of all those peripherals, but hey it will be worth it, especially if theres an online mode. So people can be playing different instruments.

Avatar image for Bigmoose19

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for sacker63

This game will be sweet. Unfortunately, this means that instead of just a pitcher injuring himself playing guitar hero (Major league pitcher could not pitch during playoffs cuz he hurt himself playing guitar hero), now the shortstop will be unable to put a glove on because of the calluses (bass), the bit hitter won't be able to grab the bat from the carpal tunnel (drums), and the manager won't be able to tell the players what to do cuz he'll lose his voice (vocals). HAHAHA. Otherwise, this game will kick ass.

Avatar image for Chirico_Cuvie

It's no big secret that Konami did this before, but they failed to realize it's potential for the foreign market. Guitar Hero has way more soul to it than the bland Guitar Freaks interface, and it's more about western rock than the tracks GF used. I've played GF and it fees unfinished, with a rudimentary interface and bland design. GH is much more fun and is all about the rock. This is just more of the same that uses the ideas that Konami did with its music titles and adding that GH flair that makes it a better product.

Avatar image for yourname2323

sounds awesome

Avatar image for Burning_Cactus

personally i think it sounds great, but uh, if guitar hero is like 90 dollars, how much would it be for the mic and drums? does any one know if u can just by the game with just the guitar or somethin like that?

Avatar image for ShadoweaverCode

Bulldog19892 "Needs more cowbell." I GOTTA HAVE MORE COWBELL

Avatar image for ShadoweaverCode

Agent_Clancy "Hmm, I wonder if you can compose music too" That's the same thing I was wondering. Drums, guitars and a karaoke mic? Might be for some, but not for me. To me it's hard to make great music with that setup. Give me a virtual Roland/Korg synthesizer and some virtual turntables and I'm set.

Avatar image for ps10n1cX

Sounds Diffrent LOL

Avatar image for fluffebunnie

So can I buy the Neil Peart drumkit add-on for YYZ?

Avatar image for packernation31

really stupid but it would be cool to drum with the wii -mote....

Avatar image for SpruceCaboose

The game will cost more than the systems! :o Edit: No April Fools here, unless its a Internet wide one: << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

Avatar image for SkyGSN-com

it sounds rather interesting, but ...

Avatar image for stonerose

a guitar, drum and microphone peripheral? i know this game will probably be cool but how much is all that gonna cost in a bundle?

Avatar image for greenleaflink

god people just make a damn band already

Avatar image for Khoo1992

WOW!!! Let's see whether EA can make this game good

Avatar image for GFofgaming


Avatar image for Filaki

and what would mtv know of rock? kid rock and creed are NOT rock. i doubt mtv would add anything like alice in chains or black sabbath as in guitar hero 2

Avatar image for ketsuatama

This will devastate my dad if its a joke! He's already trying to grow his hair long and resurrect his band, the Housewives in Bondage! lol!

Avatar image for bond21

robo do u realise the joke has to be on April 1.....??