Bon Voyage Rock Band, We Salute You

I actually never played Guitar Hero. Not to begin with at least. I remember trying for about ten minutes, but I kept missing the timing. I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to be doing with those buttons so I gave up and handed it across to Tristan Ogilvie, then Editor of the Official Xbox Mag in Australia. I just sat sipping my drink as he breezed through expert tracks. He was monstrous.

But Rock Band. I played Rock Band. My entire family played Rock Band. For a period of about two years we played nothing but Rock Band.

Today Harmonix announced it would be ceasing production of Rock Band DLC, meaning that in April, after five years of rocking our collective balls off, the team is cutting the umbilical cord to the franchise that made it famous. Harmonix is saying sayonara. Outside of forum involvement Harmonix will now have nothing to do with Rock Band.

"Whether you waited in line for a midnight release of Rock Bandover 5 years ago," read the statement, "or you just joined the party with Rock Band Blitz… whether you’ve downloaded every single song we’ve ever released, or you’ve just played on disc songs until your neighbors moved away… whether you’re a metal shredder, or a bubblegum pop singer… thank you for being a part of our band."

I almost shed a tear.

I never played Guitar Hero, but I will never forget Rock Band. I remember being shown the concept by EA PR as part of a presentation. "You know how Guitar Hero lets you play with guitars?" They said. Clearly they'd pitched this before. "Imagine being part of a band."

An internal video: four human beings, looking precisely like the lifestyle models you might see on a couch playing Wii, or on the cover of Singstar. They're having the time of their life. They're playing Welcome To The Jungle, a game that didn't appear on the disc. They are losing their minds.

And I lost mine.


Then, a cavalcade of stupidity. Rock Band was delayed in Australia for reasons lost to history and good sense. We had managed to play the game over at EA's headquarters, on the only unit in Australia at the time. We were so blown away by it that we all vowed to buy Rock Band no matter what. Myself, Tristan Ogilvie and Luke Reilly all worked together on the Official PlayStation and Xbox magazines at the time and we'd waste entire lunch breaks on Google, trying to figure out how in the hell we were going to buy the game without going broke over the shipping costs.

But, finally, a serendipitous moment; in the form of a work trip. All three of us went overseas to the US to check out a new game. The dollar was strong and as a result all three of us came home with a suitcase and an enormous box containing the plastic instruments that made up Rock Band. It was a beautiful moment.

It was the character creation mode that convinced my Sims-loving wife to give it a try. Within the hour she had a tight grip on both drumsticks and wouldn't let go. From that moment until the end of time I was playing guitar whether I liked it or not.

The next months flew by like a Rocky montage. We struggled through medium, unlocking songs, bummed our way through a handful of songs on hard. Before we knew it we could handle tracks on expert and we had recruited multiple different members of our family into the band. Every weekend was the same. At our place, blasting through More Than a Feeling, taking it all way too seriously. Every. Single. Weekend. The best.


And in the homes of my workmates Luke Reilly and Tristan Ogilvie the story was much the same. Three entire households slaves to that dastardly rhythm and blues. Once the DLC started filtering through on the US store, we decided it was time to get our grubby paws on some new songs. But how?

It was a screwed up situation. Rock Band still hadn't been released in Australia and, even if it had, we had bought US versions of the game, meaning that we couldn't actually download tracks from the Australian store. It was a mess. We bought disposable address-less credit cards from Westpac to download songs, but eventually we found a more elegant solution — virtual credit cards that allowed us to add dollars to our PlayStation Store accounts and subsequently go wild with the purchasing of tracks on the store.

And go wild we did. Through the miracle of PS3 game sharing we accumulated literally hundreds of songs. Then came Rock Band 2, LEGO Rock Band, Rock Band AC/DC — all up, all combined, when I put the Rock Band 2 disc in, all three of us had over 300 songs to choose from. Serious business.


I brought Rock Band everywhere. To LANs, to birthday parties, Christmas parties. For a couple of years Rock Band was a huge part of my gaming life. Truth be told it was a huge part of my social life. It was like a weird lubricant. It brought people out of their shells. It brought old songs to life for a new generation and inspired a gleeful nostalgia in those that remembered. It made you feel like part of a glorious rock band, it made you feel like a golden god.

Thank you Harmonix and thank you Rock Band. Thanks for the guitar solo on 'Alive' by Pearl Jam. Thanks for the Queen track pack and thanks, even, for all those Lady Gaga songs I bought (for my wife guys. For my wife). Thanks for 'Any Way You Want It'. Thanks for the intro to 'Wanted: Dead or Alive'. Thanks for letting me sing 'More Than a Feeling' even though I could only barely hit the high notes.

To those who allowed us to rock, we salute you.


    I really, really wanted Rock Band after being hopelessly addicted to Guitar Hero 2, but I didn't want to import it. By the time it did come out, I was completely over my music rhythm game phase, having opted not to get GH3.

    The fact that they supported it with DLC songs for five years is pretty astounding, but more surprising to me is how quickly that five years seems to have gone by.

    *checks calendar*

    My word, it really is 2013.

    Beatles rock band was the first music game I played and I'm still playing it now. I even bought the limited edition band kit the day it was released in Australia

    I got Rock Band sent over by a relative from the US and adored it. I even got noise complaints from neighbours (sorry) when we played it until the wee hours.

    The keyboard was also a surprisingly great addition coming at a time when I thought it was pretty much out of puff.

    I haven't played in awhile, and probably should shift the instruments on. So long Rock Band, it was awesome.

    So will we ever get a release of Rock Band 2 here in Australia then? Way back when, I had to buy an NTSC XBox 360 to play RB2, before RB2 was released in the UK, but never in Australia.

      Unfortunately, no. They've stopped production on Rock Band completely (unless, as some of the devs said today, their song department walks in with {famous-band} master tracks they can use). You'd have to import a used copy from the UK (if you find it new, you're luckier than I am). Seems a bit excessive to buy a NTSC Xbox 360 for one game, no?

        Yeah, it was pretty excessive. I was addicted to RB and GH and I saw a good deal on ebay for NTSC 360 + RB2 + instruments, all in one, so I took it.

          If they didn't want to release it here you should have just pirated it, most of these companies consider buying second hand the same as piracy anyway.

          Last edited 19/02/13 9:33 pm

    I remember great nights drunkenly having a band going with my mates. In fact, just this weekend gone we fired up Rock Band. Here's to Harmonix for giving me a ton of Disturbed, Foo Fighters and many many others to sing and play.

    Harmonix may be winding up the DLC, but I am a LONG way from being done with Rock Band.

    Rock Band has been my favourite game series of this generation (probably all time) And possibly my most played game of all time.

    I went from having barely any experience with rhythm games with an imported copy of RB1, to buying a real electronic drum kit and rocking most songs on expert pro-drums, and ranked in the top 5% of the world.

    I play rock band drums almost every day, and will probably have my 360 set up somewhere for years to come, just to rock out on rock band 3.

    Ah, sweet, sweet, drunken memories. Playing Jeremy on hard doing Vocals and guitar was such a buzz. I really need to pull that out again for one more blast to say farewell!

    I still play Rock Band 3 fairly consistently with my Pro guitar and the keyboard. good times.

    I'm part of the other camp. Loved Guitar Hero, but totally don't get Rock Band. Also kind of resent Rock Band, since without it then GH probably wouldn't have gone down the path of the full band thing which I think kind of ruined what early GH was all about. Sure, the drums are fun. But karaoke is awful and it sucks to be the regular GH player who was too slow to nab the lead guitar and instead gets stuck playing shitty bass instead.

    I did pick up a cheap copy of RB3 though, with the pro guitar controller. Partly because I have this weird peripheral fetish, partly because I was curious as to whether it could actually teach me guitar. I've only played the thing once, briefly though. Still haven't got back to it.

    End of an era. I still check the RB3 songs weekly. Awwwww.

    An end of an era. Sad news but i really hope they release the games onto the psn/xbl store seeing how the discs are becoming harder to find, and i just import them into RB3 anyway.

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