The audience for rhythm games on PC is generally pretty small, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live launch last year as console exclusives. Harmonix hasn’t forgotten the PC though, but they need your help.
The studio has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Fig to fund the PC version, with the end goal set at US$1.5 million. I’m a little surprised that they’re focusing on this at all, to be honest: Harmonix became a fully independent studio a few years ago, and there’s surely more money to be made by chasing the console market or the possibility of rhythm games in VR (PlayStation VR, even).
I suppose if the crowdfunding campaign fails, that might be their next option. But for now they’re going to try and please their PC fans, and credit to them. The port has supposedly been in the pre-planning phase since Rock Band 4 was released in October, according to the campaign description.
One major benefit that all gamers should be looking forward to: the ability to import songs, including recordings with multi-track audio, into Rock Band 4. “With a PC version being released on Steam much of the infrastructure for adding songs to the game can be done via Steam Workshop, with no fees and less overhead,” Harmonix explained.
Once Harmonix has approved someone’s song, the creator will be able to receive a cut of revenue through Steam Workshop. The PC port, if fully funded, will also sport mouse and keyboard support for menus (thank God), as well as all the content updates that have been currently released for the PS4/XBO version.
As for the Rock Band controllers, the PC version will support Bluetooth controllers from Rock Band 1 to 3 provided you have the correct Bluetooth to USB adapter. Rock Band 4 Bluetooth controllers on PS4 will also work once you pair the controller to your PC, if it supports Bluetooth. Harmonix noted that they’ll probably have to write new drivers to shore up support for wired USB controllers and wireless Xbox 360 instrument controllers to get them going on the PC, although the difficulty of doing so isn’t an insurmountable task.
Interestingly, Harmonix will be enlisting the help of Sumo Digital to make this happen. They’re the same studio behind the superb Sonic & All-Stars Racing series, who have also contributed to the kart racing element of Disney Infinity 3.0. Harmonix will also be contributing US$500,000 to the development of the project, bringing the PC port’s budget to an estimated US$2 million.
If it all comes off, we could see Rock Band 4 on PC this spring. Harmonix are promising that the risk for those backing is “relatively low” because the feature set and content is already worked out. They added that there’s a possibility that songs published on the old Rock Band Network could be re-released for the Steam Workshop, if the original rights holders agree to do so.