Let me take you back to a dark time. Before Australian video game prices began to relax. Back when paying $109.95 for a video game was the done thing. Rock Band 3 comes out. The Rock Band 3 pro-guitar? It cost $149.95 in the US. In Australia? $288. That's if you were lucky enough to find one.
Today Rock Band 4 was announced by Harmonix and there was much rejoicing. Rightly so. The time is right. The world is ready for a new Rock Band game. But Australia is not ready for Rock Band 4's new distributor: Mad Catz.
Back in the day, Rock Band the game was published by EA, the instruments? That was Mad Catz's responsibility and that was a source of constant consternation for Australians. Many believe it was the reason why the original Rock Band was delayed over one year in Australia. Many believe it was the reason why Rock Band 2 wasn't even officially released here. Why was everything so difficult? Mad Catz does not have local representation here in Australia. At all. Mad Catz products are distributed by a small company called Home Entertainment Suppliers (HES) and that company has traditionally found it difficult to keep up with Rock Band demand.
The fact that Mad Catz has been named by Harmonix as the published and distributor of Rock Band 4 could be bad news for Australians.
With Rock Band 3, for example, it was almost impossible for Australians to get their hands on the game's peripherals without importing. And even if Australians did manage to find a Rock Band Keyboard, we were expected to pay almost double the price for it compared to the US.
US Pricing (from Amazon)
Rock Band 3 Wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller: $149.99 Rock Band 3 Wireless Pro-Drum and Pro-Cymbals Kit: $129.99 Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard: $79.99
UK Pricing (from Game UK)
Rock Band 3 Wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller: £119.99 Rock Band 3 Wireless Pro-Drum and Pro-Cymbals Kit: £119.99 Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard: £69.99
Australian Pricing (From EB Games)
Rock Band 3 Wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller: $288 Rock Band 3 Wireless Pro-Drum and Pro-Cymbals Kit: $288 Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard: $138
Back then Sebastian Giompaolo, of HES, told us that Australians were being asked to pay more because they bought all their stock from Europe. That was also part of the reason why Australia was drastically under-supplied.
We could be wrong — Rock Band 4 could launch here in Australia without a hitch. But there has been a precedent set here: Rock Band has traditionally had troubled launches here in Australia as a result of Mad Catz's lack of local representation in this country.
My recommendation: if you have old Rock Band instruments gathering dust in a garage/cupboard somewhere, get ready to dust them off. You might have some difficulties getting your hands on new instruments when they game launches.