In video game development, some companies have a hard choice with downloadable content. How much material do you build for the main retail product, and how much do you save for the online market? One studio made the wrong choice on both counts in 2009, and they didn’t even try to be sneaky about it.
Although I’m sure securing the licensing rights to history’s most popular band wasn’t cheap, Harmonix and MTV Games hurt The Beatles: Rock Band before it even hit shelves by announcing a greedy DLC package that essentially made their game almost worthless.
Since I only have 25 more words for this part of the blog (trust me, there’s plenty more after the jump), I’ll refer you to the infographic summary below.
Now, I would’ve understood if Harmonix and MTV had decided to hold off on the announcement of their DLC for The Beatles: Rock Band until a week after the game launched. Hell, I wouldn’t even begrudge them for doing this on September 9, just to build more buzz for their product. But issuing a press release two weeks in advance that you’re holding the best of The Beatles’ music hostage online?
Again, what the f–k were you guys thinking?
Excuse me for being nitpicky, but The Beatles: Rock Band only included 45 songs. That’s almost half as much Rock Band 2′s setlist of 84 songs, not to mention all the FREE tracks that came afterward. Again, just for the sake of comparison, that’s barely a handful more than Rock Band Unplugged‘s offering of 41 master track recordings (it’s a surprisingly good portable take on the series, by the way). Even if you’re a hardcore Beatles fanatic, the raw math indicates one simple truth: $59.99 for half a video game is wrong. Even the Guitar Hero franchise has the good sense to keep adding bigger setlists.
Hey, maybe this is a sign that we’re starting to outgrow Rock Band games (my room’s cluttered with six guitars and a drum kit). On some level, I guess I can’t blame Harmonix/MTV for trying to squeeze a few extra bucks out of Beatles’ fans. Of all the music they picked, it had to be the most expensive catalog collection in the entire world, and that’s got to be one Hell of a bill. But the facts don’t lie. The Beatles: Rock Band took 4 months to sell over 1 million units worldwide, and in video game terms (or just plain business terms), that’s pretty bad.
Marketing a video game on the most popular band in history was a good move, but saddling it with ill-timed downloadable content, especially days before release, was just a red flag for many people – fans and gamers alike – that it ultimately wasn’t even worth their while to pick up The Beatles: Rock Band. Eventually, developers are going to run out of top-tier music to cram into Guitar Hero and Rock Band sequels, but bonehead moves like this are just laying more dirt on the grave. When you get greedy with DLC, gamers are going to take notice, and in a worst-case scenario, we’ll call your bluff and just spend our hard-earned cash elsewhere.
You’re Gonna Carry That Weight.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!