Harmonix’s Amplitude Not Coming To PC Now, Maybe Ever

By Nathan Grayson on May 19th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

Back before Harmonix was combining the acts of shooting and shimmying in Chroma, or even before they ruined my college grades with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, they made brilliant rhythm blast-’em-up Amplitude. It was amazing and everybody loved it, probably even The President. Flash forward to now: all these years later, Harmonix is Kickstarting a sequel. The original was console-only, but this is 2014; you’d figure there’d be a PC version in the mix. No dice, though, due to Sony technically owning the license. But maybe, you know, sometime down the line? Apparently the situation is a bit more complex than that, and Harmonix told RPS we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up.

I asked Harmonix’s Nick Chester if PC could ever, ever, ever in a million years get a version of Amplitude, especially given that PC gamers are such a powerful force in the world of Kickstarter, and Harmonix’s console-only campaign is flagging a little. He explained, however, that while Harmonix would love to make it happen, it’s out of their hands.

“So we’d love to bring Amplitude to a platform like PC, and in fact it’s something we considered. But at the end of the day, this is Sony’s IP and taking it to non-PlayStation platforms is just not in the cards right now. Going into this, we knew how the lack of a PC/Mac/Linux version might have an impact [on our Kickstarter]; we’re not blind to that fact, as I’ve seen some suggest. But we believe in the title, and think that the PlayStation consoles are a great fit for the game.”

“Without going into detail, it does extend beyond just them owning the name or IP. There are other moving parts that wouldn’t necessarily give us a clear path to doing a spiritual successor on other platforms without the Amplitude name.”

It’s a shame, but sometimes there’s little that can be done – especially when there are various music licenses involved in addition to game names and IPs. Game developers can build space ships that open fire on the very notion of music itself, but business is a more powerful force still. Oh well, though. At least Chroma is coming to PC and PC alone. I’m still not exactly amped about our lack of Amplitude, but it’s something.

In the meantime, guess it’s back to Soundodger and Audiosurf for me.

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45 Comments »

  1. trjp says:

    Frequency was better than Amplitude anyway – Amplitude “over-egged the pudding” IMO

    Frequency was once a very collectable PS2 game but someone seems to have found a warehouse full of them or something

    Anyway – this

    • Low Life says:

      Embedded Youtube in comments, what is this sorcery?

    • Shakes999 says:

      This is correct. Amplitude was a step down in every direction from Frequency. The track selection was terrible (And the few tracks that might have been good, they used a shitty remix instead, Dieselboy, im looking in your direction). The mechanics were worse and everything about it was just a noticeable step down.

      They took something that didn’t need fixing and broke it.

  2. trjp says:

    Oh – also – the closest Harmonix ever got to making another Frequency/Amplitude was the ‘really rather excellent’ Rock Band Unplugged for PSP

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuZxgtJn2hY

    You can, of course, play such games on your PC device with relative ease if you’re willing to – erm – well – you know the deal…

    • GameCat says:

      I love this game, but only in warm-up mode where you can play whole vocal/guitar/bass/drums track, like in Guitar Hero.

  3. Metalhead9806 says:

    This would explain why PC gamers have turned their backs on them and with 4 days to go their KS is a massive failure.

    Do the smart thing, make a spiritual successor without sony.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      It still did VERY well considering that they don’t plan to offer any PC version at all. 300k, who would have thought? I expected to see there less than 100k. Seems like hardcore console gamers are on a KS too. At least 7 000 of them.

    • Godwhacker says:

      Or perhaps they could ask Sony or another publisher for funding, rather than trying to get free money out of people for what is clearly a commercial venture

      • Moraven says:

        KS is just a glorified pre-order system now to see if projects have enough interest.

        Nearly every KS you back is for a commercial venture. I backed Crappy Wallet, which now sells them in their online store. I backed Broken Age, which got me a half of a delayed game so far, which they already have sold to thousands of others and had Steam sales already. FTL would not have an iPad version and sold many copies if they were not backed to help complete the final touches to the game.

        And for the most part, I am fine with it, if I know what I am backing. A lot of money is based on market research, gamer research, human psychology to get them to spend more on F2P games.

        Here is our idea, if we get enough pre-orders, we can make it happen with KS and our own funds, since we expect to at least make our money back to pay the bills and hopefully have some leftover for the next game.

        Most KS you are simply paying the price of the game unless you get a higher tier. Higher tiers if done right do have some leftover money after reward expenses that simply goes to development expenses. Or people could back without selecting a reward.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, really. This might as well be a KS for Sony if they’re setting terms; and I hardly think they need subsidizing.

    • Jesus_Phish says:

      Part of me thinks the Kickstarter is just a way for them to show Sony or another publisher “hey look, people are totally interested in another one of these”. It wouldn’t be the first time a developer has a launched a kickstarter only to show publishers that people are willing to buy the product.

      I wouldn’t be shocked that when this fails to get funded, it ends up coming out anyway.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Like others mention, this sounds like Sony wanted to know how much interest is in this game, so now they know how much $$$ they can give them to make it.

      • Moraven says:

        If they get close, it will be interesting to see if Sony would fund the rest of the KS on the last day.

  4. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    The real question is, why they even felt the need to make a game in that franchise, if that binds them to a platform. Surely the “franchise” (1 game) recognition won’t get them as much sales (and kickstarter backers) as “Generic music game title LIKE Amplitude by THE DEVELOPERS OF XX” for 2 consoles and PC.

    Does anyone REALLY care that it’s called amplitude and reuses some of it’s features when those guys are so good at inventing new ones?

  5. BarryAllen says:

    Would back if there was a Vita version.

  6. The Dark One says:

    Without going into detail, it does extend beyond just them owning the name or IP. There are other moving parts that wouldn’t necessarily give us a clear path to doing a spiritual successor on other platforms without the Amplitude name.

    Perhaps Sony has some ridiculous patent on a core game mechanic, like Wizards does with Magic the Gathering. It’s a shame, because that Kickstarter is dead in the water.

    e: You know what, I’m not really that sad that something like this is failing. It would reinforce the bad idea that the Veronica Mars movie gave studios- that desperate fans can and should be be willing to shoulder the risk on titles that the publishers could be funding themselves.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Either that, or the exclusivity agreement Sony had in place covers a spiritual successor. After all, Amplitude was not called Frequency 2.

      There’s no way I’m paying so that Sony can have an exclusive. How backwards is that?

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        Seems like over 7000 people thought it’s a brilliant idea.

        • gravity_spoon says:

          More like 7000 idiots who thankfully will have their money returned to them by KS now. They should be thankful

          • Moraven says:

            Or 7000 people that already own PS3/PS4 and/or do not game on the PC.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      “that desperate fans can and should be be willing to shoulder the risk on titles that the publishers could be funding themselves” – companies have been doing that for quite a while on a PC games market. Just look at these kickstarters run by large, experienced companies with their own budgets – for example: Project Eternity by Obsidian.

      • gravity_spoon says:

        Obsidian definitely doesn’t have as much money as Sony. Not to mention, if it was possible, they wouldn’t KS it.

      • kwyjibo says:

        I’d gladly back a Harmonix indie project. I’m not funding a fucking Sony IP.

        The 7000 probably thought the Move was a good idea, that the Vita is more important than the iPhone, that it was a shame that the power of the Cell was never truly realised, and that Sony only have their best interests at heart.

      • MobileAssaultDuck says:

        Obsidian is an independent dev with no direct ties to a publisher.

        They kickstarted Project Eternity after trying to shop it to publishers with no success.

        Harmoix has Sony’s hand up their ass, they have a cash flow from a publisher, they don’t need kickstarter.

        Large difference.

        • Gargenville says:

          Harmonix isn’t tied to Sony at all for anything other than Amplitude, the biggest thing they’ve got going since Rock Band petered out is actually the Kinect exclusive Dance Central series.

          • MobileAssaultDuck says:

            But for this specific title. they have Sony’s hand up their ass. They’re building a game for which Sony holds the rights.

            That does not belong on Kickstarter.

            You go to Kickstarter when publishers won’t fund your shit. Project Eternity got shopped around, Star Citizen got shopped around. You see if a publisher will do it first, then you turn to KS when publishers won’t.

            This is Harmonix trying to get fans to pay Sony’s bill, that’s shady as fuck and I am not trusting them as a company from this point forward.

          • Moraven says:

            Why should Sony be forced to invest into something that might not become profitable?

            Why do they want to freely give away their IP for use without seeing some kind of support for it?

            Hell, I see it as a big step just for Sony to allow the use of the IP to begin with. All these bigger devs would not let someone use their IP on a self funded, kickstarted game to begin with.

  7. PopeRatzo says:

    Hey, if they don’t want me to play their game, then I won’t play it. Simple.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    I’ve started really liking music games. Rocksmith 2014 which I’ve mentioned before is great. There is this Cosmic DJ which appeared on Steam which looks intriguing, anyone tried it?
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/297110

    Oh, and there is”Frederic: Resurrection of Music”. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but there is something terrible about a game where you are ostensibly doing battle against bad music…. by tapping away at Casio bleep-bloop remakes of some of the most complex and beautiful music mankind has ever created. Pop culture!

  9. gravity_spoon says:

    The KS is gonna fail. Barely half of the total done with 4 days to go. I am pretty sure than the game doesn’t need a whopping ~800k. But if Sony wants to rob people and people want to willingly hand over their money, then I guess its fine too. Hope the KS fails miserably.

    • Moraven says:

      Not sure how a KS is going to cause Sony to visit me on the streets and hold a Playstation Move to my back and require me to dump my wallet and not look back.

      I’m pretty sure they know how much the game needs and how much they are putting into it.

  10. PsychoWedge says:

    Let me get this straight: Sony, the owner of massive shitloads of money, is also the owner of an IP. They want a new game with that IP (otherwise they wouldn’t allow Harmonix to use it, obviously) on their beloved console but they don’t want to spend any money on it nor do they want the new game on any other plattform. And of course they’d really like to cash in on the profits (otherwise they would just give the IP to Harmonix)…

    I think anything else than a failure of the kickstarter would be atrocious. Not because of Harmonix of course but because of Sony.

    • Frank says:

      They don’t need to get the profits, necessarily. What I’d do, as an evil executive is tie Harmonix’ hands so that *if* they managed to make a game, it had to turn out very good, increasing the value of the franchise so we could cash in on the next game. I’d also give them strong incentives to make a good game by letting them get most of the direct upside.

    • Moraven says:

      Why doesn’t Sony just fund Amplitude?

      We can’t speak for Sony, but our guess is that it’s difficult for them to make a business case for funding the release of another Amplitude. The original games, while critically acclaimed and beloved by fans, weren’t commercially successful.

      I agree in that they should let Harmonix make a PC version. It was not commercially success, but it could see that being on PC and Sony hardware. The IP does not hold much value other than being a cult classic and nostalgic value.

      They are embracing indie support to get indies onto PS4 while admitting indies also need PC to survive. Now they should do that with their old IP that the original creators want to develop for.

  11. DarkSaber2k says:

    Well, there’s goes the already slim chance they had of getting this crowdfunded on a website where EVERY OTHER succesful video game Kickstarter has been BECAUSE it was for PC at the very least. Way to fail Harmonix.

  12. Ziffy says:

    It’s a shame that SCE hates money and is stuck with their 90s mentality of Playstation or nothing, leaving PCs for those SOE guys. A little flexibility in this one instance and it would’ve been funded twice over by now.

  13. ZoddGuts says:

    The Universim Kickstarter deserves to make it to it’s funding goal, this on the other hand, not so much.

  14. HisDivineOrder says:

    They don’t think they could get the word of mouth without the Amplitude branding. The thing is, I think they’re burning the candle at both ends here. They figure that if they can’t kickstart it under the Amplitude name, then they can do ANOTHER kickstarter after everyone’s yelled at them for not having a PC version with a new name and they’ll have FAR and AWAY more attention because they’ll be able to advertise for a PC version, too.

    And everyone will go, “Oh, this is Amplitude with a different name!”

    Whereas if they’d just tried to do that out the gate, people would have been shrugging and asking, “What’s Amplitude?”

  15. Wedge says:

    There’s nothing good about this project in the first place anyways. If they had a clue they’d be making it for PC and focusing on tools to allow musicians to release their own music on it. The current idea is just a cute little one run downloadable title that will be forgotten a month after release. Which is fine for most games, but this has potential for so much more.