Celebrating Rock Band 4’s 5th Birthday—Takeaways From My Zoom Call With Harmonix
On Monday, September 7th, 2020, I was invited to participate in a Zoom call with Troy (Product Manager) and Katey (Community Manager) from Harmonix to celebrate Rock Band 4’s 5th birthday. They invited community members via social media to participate in the celebration by sharing their favorite Rock Band memories and wishing Rock Band a happy 5th birthday. I was one of the lucky ones to get selected and participate. Funny story, they both recognized me as a streamer. They’ll be making a celebration video for early October release on all their socials.
Tyler, a fellow Rock Band addict, and I both shared our Rock Band memories at the beginning of the call. Troy and Katey were both super chill and friendly. They were excited to hear our memories and feel our excitement for the game—and completely open about answering all the questions and listening to the feedback we provided.
At the end of the call, they asked us if we had any questions for them—which of course, we had plenty. Since a lot of the community has been asking similar questions, I found it fitting to share them here. Here are some of the questions we asked and Katey and Troy’s answers.
Will the existing bugs in the game be fixed?
Troy let us know that they’re currently working on a patch to fix bugs and exploits in the game. He didn’t give a timeline, but he made it sound like it would happen sometime this year. Being a small, Indie company, they’re limited on developers and have to share those developers on all Harmonix games. I encouraged them to bribe the developers with food and/or gifts to get more focus on Rock Band.
Will there be a Rock Band on the next-gen consoles?
They’re actively testing Rock Band 4 on next-gen consoles to make sure everything runs smoothly with no bugs—and that they can get the existing peripherals to work. The plan is to have all our current songs transfer over to the new game. The game will not be available with the launch of the next-gen consoles as they want to smooth out all the kinks first and not rush the launch (heh…remember Rock Band 4’s launch?).
Will the next-gen Rock Band have cross-play?
To no one’s surprise, Sony is being the difficult one when it comes to crossplay. Harmonix hasn’t written cross-play off completely, though, and they are still working on incorporating it.
Will new equipment ever be manufactured?
Troy mentioned that they tried pursuing a new hardware manufacturer to have equipment made and it ended up falling through due to high cost. They’re still actively pursuing a hardware manufacturer that can do a smaller batch while also keeping costs down, which has been a challenge. Again, being a smaller Indie company, Rock Band can’t have things mass-produced things like larger companies. He even mentioned they’re running low on equipment on their end as well—and they’re fully aware of the shortage and high costs of instruments and adaptors.
Do you know anything about music games being banned from Twitch? Can you help to prevent it?
They’re aware of the threats from the music industry to music games on Twitch when it comes to licensing and usage. Unfortunately, Harmonix doesn’t have much, if any, sway on what the music industry does. I did mention potentially banding together (hehe) with the other music game companies and getting more sway to keep our beloved music games on Twitch. I also brought up the growth of Rock Band streamers on the platform within the last year.
Will there be another Road Crew or fan promotion?
They mentioned that there could be future fan promotions like the Road Crew. Tyler and I mentioned potentially partnering with Rock Band on platforms like Twitch to beta test or try out new equipment, which they seemed open to. We didn’t get too deep into this discussion, but I hope to discuss more someday.
How do you choose songs for weekly releases?
They do check the song request queue regularly for new ideas but also follow popular music trends as well. They made the observation that although people constantly complain about pop DLC, it gets downloaded way more than some of the metal and harder stuff, which I thought was funny. They’re always working on getting new artists on the game.
Will there ever be an option to play rhythm guitar in the game?
Tyler added that it would complement bands that have multiple guitarists in them. Troy said that they considered it, but they didn’t want players to have too much down-time while playing. Splitting rhythm and lead would leave empty spots in the charts that could make the songs boring. So at this time, they’re not considering the addition.
Would they be willing to promote loyal streamers?
Tyler and I both agreed that streamers strongly help promote the game and grow the community and mentioned possibly partnering with Harmonix. They sounded like they were open to it, but we didn’t dive to deep into this conversation.
The Rock Band 4 5th birthday celebration video will come out in early October and may include content from Tyler and me. I was super stoked to be invited to such an amazing call, and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with Katey and Troy. I’m still optimistic about Rock Band 5—and will definitely be pre-ordering once it comes to fruition!