Via CrispyGamer, Harmonix have confirmed what I pretty much suspected, that there will be no Rock Band 3 in 2009. I’m not surprised, they already have the Beatles game in the making for 2009, and unlike Activision, Harmonix aren’t in the business of spamming the world with as many rushed sequels as they can manage before the general public gets bored.
To be honest, I don’t think there’s much they could do to improve Rock Band 2 anyway, it’s a highly polished game and DLC keeps it fresh (and to be honest, I have so many tracks that we already have almost too much choice when we play - not that it will stop me buying more). The only thing I can think of that I would like them to add is optional recognition of separate cymbal inputs, to be compatible with the Rock Band 2 cymbal add-ons and the Ion Drum Rocker, and maybe an optional hi-hat pedal (both kits have a spare port for this to be added). They could do this via subtle icon changes in the drum charts, like they do for hammer-ons and pull-offs in the guitar tracks. Entirely optional so as not to disadvantage people with RB1 kits, and those that don’t want the extra difficulty. Of course the downside of this is that it would further encourage me to blow money on more plastic instruments. (edit: ok I thought of something crucial - a cowbell attachment!).
It’s not as if they need to make another one commercially either. The music game genre may be falling out of fashion, but that’s mostly because casual consumers are being overloaded with too many titles, plus everyone has less of a need to buy retail copies when good DLC is available - how many people skipped RB2 and GH:WT because RB1 + DLC was enough for them, or even GH3 (if they don’t know any better)?. Activision are only interested in multi-billion dollar, recurring retail franchises, so of course it might worry them, but Harmonix have always been dedicated to the music genre, way before it was a commercial success, and so are not just following the money. Rock Band may not sell as many copies as Guitar Hero, because of the brand recognition and better platform coverage, but it doesn’t need to - Harmonix is a smaller, more focussed business that concentrates on pleasing the more serious fans (I’m pretty keen, but so many people on the internet are incredibly serious), who in turn have rewarded them with enough retail and DLC purchases to keep their business easily hitting expectations - as their recent huge bonuses show. I’m sure that more quality DLC plus the guaranteed sales of the Beatles game this year will be quite enough to keep them happy, even if overall the music game genre shrinks when the general public stop buying yet more Guitar Hero. Activision may drop the genre if it starts bringing in less money, but I seriously doubt Harmonix will, it’s in their genes.
Interesting to see them talk about Led Zeppelin again. Good luck with that 😉 As for the keyboard interface - not that bothered about it personally. I think the current 4-instrument set-up is plenty.