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Why Rock Band 4 May Not Add Online Multiplayer Anytime Soon

Plus, Harmonix confirms practice mode, setlists, and more are coming next year.


Rock Band 4 developer Harmonix has written a blog post explaining what fans can expect in the New Year as it relates to ongoing updates and new features for the music game. Project manager Daniel Sussman said one part of the team's mission for 2016 is to "increase the transparency" between the development process and the community. With that in mind, Sussman outlined some of the features Harmonix is now working on.

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He confirmed that a practice mode and setlists, two features the community has been calling for, will be delivered as free updates to Rock Band 4 in 2016, though no exact time table was provided.

"There is a good amount of design work to figure out the best way to incorporate those features into Rock Band 4 and also to consider ways to improve on the implementation from Rock Band 3," he said. "That said, the team is committed to bringing these back as soon as possible."

In addition, Sussman said online multiplayer is an exciting feature that people want, but explained that there are numerous technical hurdles to overcome. As such, it might not happen right away.

"Online play with Rock Band is a big deal given the amount of different combinations of player (four potential instruments, different difficulties, song affinities between players, etc.)," he said. "There is a ton of testing necessary as well technical back end to work through in order to provide a fun, stable experience."

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"For any feature development, especially features that have existed in our legacy Rock Band games, we want to be able to improve and refine wherever possible. In the case of online play, we have a lot of critical feedback on the Rock Band 3 design that we'd love to be able to address," he added.

Online multiplayer for Rock Band 4 is "very much on the table," but the developer is not sure yet "where it fits in our roadmap." Harmonix is hoping to solicit feedback from the community to decide how to best approach the feature.

"Before we can deliver a feature as complex as online multiplayer, we would like to better understand what you want and find to be important," he said. "In an effort to drive that conversation forward, we'll be sending out a survey about online play shortly so you can provide feedback that helps direct our development efforts as we make decisions about what to do next."

Sussman went on to say that, in addition to the features outlined above, Harmonix is working on things like Xbox One support for ION drums and more, which will be delivered through future Rock Band 4 updates.

In the coming year, Rock Band 4 players can also look forward to new features. Harmonix delivered features like Brutal difficulty mode and a taunt system this year, and the studio has "tons of other fun ideas" that could come out next year.

Also in the blog post, Sussman confirmed that January's Rock Band 4 update won't be as extensive as December's. "Our focus is on stability and performance," he said. "We've got fixes for some of the leaderboard issues as well as a few new things that we'll be announcing down the road as they gel."

On the subject of exports, Sussman said Harmonix is hoping to have export options available for the original Rock Band up first in January, followed by Rock Band 2 and Lego Rock Band. Export support for Rock Band 3's library arrived this week. Harmonix's work in this department means there might be a "week or two" in January when no new DLC tracks are released into the Rock Band music store, Sussman said.

Rock Band 4 is the only Rock Band game that Harmonix plans to release for this generation of consoles. As Sussman says, Harmonix will update the game with new features instead of releasing Rock Band 5 or Rock Band 6 down the road.

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