Ten Years Of Rock Band, That Game Everybody Used To Play

Ten Years Of Rock Band, That Game Everybody Used To Play

On 20 November 2007, Harmonix, EA and MTV Games released the first Rock Band in the US, a four-player, instrument-driven rhythm game that briefly changed the face of social multiplayer gaming. A year later, on 7 November 2008, it was released in Australia. Where are your plastic instruments now?

If you had told me in early 2007 that a $US170 ($225) box packed with a game, guitar, drums and a mic would sell millions of copies, driving competitors to develop their own expensive band-in-a-box games, I would have called you crazy. If you’d told me in early 2008 that Rock Band and its progenitor-turned-competition, Guitar Hero, would be all but dead by 2011, I would have been too busy playing Rock Band to hear you.

During the years following Rock Band‘s initial release, there was no better way to share music with friends than to get in front of a television and jam to Rock Band. It was at parties. It was at gaming conventions. It was at my local bar, drawing crowds almost as big as Sunday football. Not only did Rock Band and its ilk bring together friends with friends, it connected players with music they otherwise might have never heard. Some of the remain my favourite songs to this day.


Unfortunately, the public’s enthusiasm for rhythm games led Rock Band publisher EA and Guitar Hero publisher Activision to go completely EA and Activision on the series. Between 2007 and 2010, six Rock Band games (not counting mobile and portable releases) were released, including The Beatles: Rock Band, Green Day: Rock Band and LEGO Rock Band. In 2008, Activision upgraded Guitar Hero to a full band game, releasing a new version each year until 2010, along with 2009’s Band Hero, a pop-centric spin off.

I love me some Lego, but can totally see the ridiculousness of this.

I love me some LEGO, but can totally see the ridiculousness of this.

As genre over-saturation goes, it was pretty impressive. It’s almost as if EA and Activision had teamed up to make people completely sick of band games.

Harmonix released Rock Band 3 in the spring 2010, and its sales weren’t great. In fact, it was outsold that holiday season by another Harmonix game, Dance Central, a game exclusive to the Xbox 360’s then-new Kinect sensor. That’s just plain sad. Still, Harmonix kept releasing new songs for Rock Band 3 until mid 2013.

Harmonix brought back the series in October 2015 with Rock Band 4. It’s a great band game, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of people want that right now. It probably didn’t help that Activision also released the first new Guitar Hero game since 2010 in the same month.

Harmonix has been updating Rock Band 4 pretty steadily since its release, adding new game modes, online multiplayer support and new music. Earlier this year the studio released Rock Band VR, which Kirk Hamilton called the most fun he’d had playing Rock Band in years.



Rock Band never stopped being fun. It just stopped being interesting to all but the most dedicated plastic instrument artists. These days I keep things simple. I’m on the guitar, my wife’s on the mic, and my kids take care of demanding we play every single song in alphabetical order.

Do you still have your instruments? Do you still play? Can I come over?


  • As someone that is garbage at anything to do with rhythm I quickly learned to avoid my highly competitive mates house due to the fact that Guitar Hero like games were all he could beat me at so he would go off whenever he won.

  • I still play RB with friends at least once every few months. Purchasing new songs each time I play as a small thank you to Harmonix for keeping the game going, even though RB4 is a total disaster.

  • Between DLC, importing both pro drums and pro guitar etc we spent well over $1000 on this ridiculous franchise… Absolutely zero regrets however, this was our go to party game for years! I still miss the days where we’d play RB religiously, so much fun was had 🙁

    • Almost the same for me. It’s a shame this died out. I should give a decent crack at Rock Band 4 again, with the dust settled on the song imports I’m see over 600 items in my DLC for the game now. Not quite RB3 levels with Rock Band Network missing but still decent.

  • I miss non-band Guitar Hero. Had way more fun with co-op and battle in GHIII than with the multiplayer in anything that came after, save for perhaps Roadie Battle.

  • I bought Rock Band 4 (guitar only version) when I bought my PS4 Pro three months ago or so, and it still gets regular plays. Unfortunately I missed the cut-offs to transfer old Rock Band songs into RB4 (plus all my previous Rock Band purchases were on Xbox 360.)
    I also still get out Beatles Rock Band on my Xbox 360 when I need a Beatles fix.

    As for the guitars, they hang from hooks next to my console shelving.

  • I have all the games (both RB and GH) and I have the upgraded Logitech instruments which are awesome

    I have now moved onto Rocksmith and Bandfuse to get the same feeling in a more modern game, but these are still great for parties

  • I was disappointed when things slowly died out, I had so much fun with both the GH and RB franchises. I jumped at the chance to get the Rock Band 4 guitar + rivals bundle 😀 a few months ago. Beatles was a great spin off, funnily enough as much time as I spent on RB 1 – 3…. I probably played Lego Rock Band the most. I also recall the early years when the game was not published extensively…….. I wound up getting the full band kit + game for free (well not free as I traded in a bunch of games at the time at GAME… it was one of my few trade in victories as I traded in games that I got more value for than what they were worth. So I was able to go on a mega spending spree!). But I purchased the original game again months later to have another game disc in case my original ever played up (it never did as I take excellent care of my game discs – even my ps2 game discs are in new condition!). I imported Rock Band 2 twice. That said I only ever purchased one copy of RB 3.

  • Nothing beats this as a party game. You cannot boot up Rocksmith with a group of friends over and expect to have fun with them. This is great because it allows people of all skill levels to have fun and interact with music together. I have over 1000 songs now including imports to Rock Band 4 and while its not as good as the older games, the core experience is still there and it’s personally still a lot of fun for me to play solo too.

  • absolutely agree these kind of games have a their place. Its light casual fun with some depth.

    I just never latched onto the idea of pretending to play guitar over actually learning how to play a real guitar which for me feels a million time more fulfilling.

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