There’s a fascinating write-up over at The Onion’s Gameological Society chronicling the rise and fall of Rock Band. As a huge fan of Harmonix’s music games, I understand why the series faded away, even if I disagree with the reasoning on a personal level. The article posits that Rock Band collapsed under its own weight as the three core games in the series were joined by countless add-on discs and DLC songs as well as variations like LEGO Rock Band and Beatles Rock Band. Gamers simply had too much of a good thing.
But as a lover of Rock Band, I would like to disagree with that, as I enjoyed having all the additional songs to play. It kept the game fresh, and every week I looked forward to the DLC announcement to see if I’d be adding to my already-massive song library. The weekly DLC releases meant that Rock Band was never out of my Xbox 360 disc tray for long.
I felt the same way about Harmonix’s Dance Central series, and was equally disappointed when they set that series aside as well to focus on their upcoming Fantasia: Music Evolved. Each Rock Band and Dance Central game improved on what came before to the point where the third game in each series seemed to have perfected the gameplay, so subsequent iterations would have been unnecessary anyway. But I also suppose that simply releasing DLC only from that point on wouldn’t have been a financially-viable business model.
As a lover of music games, I still play SingStar regularly and am grateful that Sony continues to release new DLC songs every other week. (I still miss Lips, though…) And I will occasionally pop Dance Central or Rock Band into my Xbox for a quick session, although less frequently now that there’s no regular DLC to remind me how much I enjoy playing them. I’m looking forward to Fantasia: Music Evolved, but I’m also hoping that Harmonix one day will return to the musical well and get us playing our plastic instruments again. (As someone with no actual musical abilities, it’s the closest I will ever come to the real thing!) I’d hate to see this genre die off.