Why Japan Never Got Rock Band

Why Japan Never Got Rock Band

A few years back, Rock Band exploded in North America. In Europe. In Australia. It didn’t in Japan. There must be a reason for that.

There is. The game was never released in Japan. There must be a reason for that. There are — several.

According to Harmonix Music Systems’ boss Alex Rigopulos, there was interest in bringing Rock Band to Japan. Japanese music games have always been an inspiration for Harmonix.

Rumors swirled that Harmonix was working on a Japanese version. According to Rigopulos, licensing Japanese music proved challenging. It wasn’t just that — the game’s iconic peripherals ran into headwinds in Japan. Houses are small, and there’s less space to store all the plastic instruments. What’s more, Rigopulos said, was that Japanese people tend to be quieter at home and have fewer home parties than Westerners.

People in Japan do entertain at home; however, he’d dead on that people here do tend to be quieter at home.

With homes not providing the ideal space to enjoy Rock Band, Rigopulos said that Harmonix was looking into releasing the game in Japanese arcades or even in Japanese karaoke parlors. The arcades were too noisy, said Rigopulos. Karaoke parlors also weren’t ideal. They’re divided into small rooms; those rooms have tables that are fixed to the floor, making it difficult to clear a space to play Rock Band and thus nixing the chance of a Rock Band karaoke paralor release in Japan.

With Dance Central, aka the Kinect game, Harmonix was finally able to release one of its latest titles in Japan, offering Japanese gamers to chance to enjoy music gaming, without the peripheral fuss. For Harmonix, success in Japan has never sounded as sweet.


  • Just want to point out Rock Band never “exploded” in Australia, thanks to a year long delay of it’s release, and never even receiving Rock Band 2 at all.

    Bitter? Yes.

  • by the time guitar hero/rock band ‘exploded’ anywhere japan already had their own brand of music games…

    GuitarFreaks says hi

  • I dunno where Bashcraft lives but Japanese people can be pretty lively around here.

    Also, when you think of the gigantic popularity of Karaoke, it seems like a no brainer. Last week, I was at a town’s festival, when a family had set up a karaoke machine on the street outside their house, and coaxed us in to come sing with them.

    Even if the games were licensed to solely be used in Karaoke bars, it would have been hugely successful.

    Japanese people (particularly the youth of our generation) are no longer the super quiet super reserved stereotypes media has shown us.

  • Arcades too loud for them… because they’re already full of music games that would crush Rockband.

    Though speaking of noise, machines now offer headphone jacks so you can listen in peace, it’s totally ace.

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