Tuning Up: Rock Band 4 Crowdfunding PC Port

Plastic-bashing rhythm game Rock Band 4 [official site] may roll on over from consoles to PC, if creators Harmonix can raise $1,500,000 (£1.1m-ish) from would-be shredders. Today they launched a crowdfunding campaign through Fig to fund a PC port, which they hope to release in autumn 2016. If they make it, they’ll add one big feature not on consoles: they’ll bring back the Rock Band Network tools for musicians to turn their own songs into game tracks and sell them via the Steam Workshop.

For folks who missed the craze in the noughties, I’ll explain. Rock Band is the video game equivalent of singing into a hair brush, the dream belting out rock hits in the world’s most popular cover band. It gives you diddy toy guitars to hold and toy drums to wail on, hitting colour-coded buttons in time to on-screen prompts, and plastic actual microphones to sing into. It’s a bit of a larf, innit?

Rock Band 4 came out on consoles in October 2015, so the game does actually exist. Harmonix have partnered with Sumo Digital for the PC port. Harmonix estimate it’ll cost $2 million to bring over and test and whatnot, but will pay for the other $500,000 themselves. If you fancy supporting it, a $49 pledge would get you a copy of the finished game (it’ll cost $60 to buy at launch) – though of course you’ll need to provide your own plastic instruments (it’ll support Rock Band instruments from a range of consoles). You can still pick those up for a couple of quid in charity shops, last I saw.

As for Rock Band Network, it’s a scheme they ran on consoles for earlier versions of Rock Band but shut down. It’ll let musicians turn their own songs into Rock Band tracks and sell them via the Steam Workshop – yes, they will check you’re not just jacking Britney’s tracks. It means the selection isn’t limited to what Harmonix choose for the game or sell as DLC, see.

Rock Band 4 has 35 days to reach its $1.5m goal on Fig. That’s the game-oriented crowdfunding site founded by folks including a former Double Fine chap, which has an advisory board including experienced crowdfundings like Double Fine’s Tim Schafer, inXile’s Brian Fargo, and – hey! – Harmonix’s Alex Rigopulos. I’m sure Rigopulos will be full of bright ideas for Rock Band. It’s also the crowdfunding site with the option to actually, properly, financially invest. Fig’s pretty new, but has funded small games like Outer Wilds and bigger ones like Psychonauts 2.

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  1. Barberetti says:

    …. for Windows 10 via the Windows Store!

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      Lars Westergren says:

      Actually on Steam with Steam Workshop integration.

      I might back this, for the drums part. After playing Rocksmith I think it will be difficult to go back to plastic guitars, but the drums are close enough to the real thing (I imagine). And I always enjoyed playing those the most when I tried the old Guitar Hero/Rock Band titles.

      • mrwonko says:

        I quite enjoy the drums in Rock Band; they actually made me think about getting a proper e-drumset. And just today I was wondering if I might be able to play Rock Band with one, coming full circle. (Turns out there are adapters.)

        But a PC version could simply be compatible with midi controllers out of the box (unlikely) or at least with some kind of mod (possible). So I’m certainly looking forward to this.

        Plus custom tracks! I like the sound of this.

        • Rikard Peterson says:

          I asked them about MIDI on twitter and got this reply: “We haven’t started PC development work yet, so we can’t say for sure, but these should work.”

          Promising. :)

  2. Ksempac says:

    A good effort, but i doubt it will succeed. It’s not clear if there is an actual market for that kind of games on PC, and Rock Band 4 already had disappointing sales figures on console. Moreover, Fig doesn’t have the name recognition that Kickstarter enjoys, so there will be less press, and less people willing to try yet another crowfunding website.

    Well good luck to them anyway…

    • Det. Bullock says:

      Yep and that disappointing sales spelled doom for Madcatz/saitek (the guys who are supposedly going to produce the “Star Citizen HOTAS”), they had to change CEO and fire people last I heard.

  3. Deano2099 says:

    Wasn’t Rock Band VR already announced for Oculus this year?

  4. Phasma Felis says:

    I’m not crowdfunding anything from Harmonix that isn’t Chroma. The closed beta, unpolished as it was, was one of the best multiplayer games I’ve ever seen.

  5. malkav11 says:

    I dug Rock Band back in the day and I do still have a plastic guitar. But I’m not sure that it’s a desktop experience, and I think that’s still the context in which a lot of PC gamers operate.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      I don’t think it’s aimed at “PC gamers”. More like people who own a PC and play games on it. That’s a much larger demographic.

      The need for special controllers is my problem with it though. I’d probably have backed it if it was playable with standard controllers. (I asked them about it, and their answer was that standard controllers are not supported or tested, but that they’re not doing anything specifically to not make them work either… I guess that means that it’ll likely work, if their twitter person know what they’re talking about. Will keep an eye out for it in future Steam sales.)

    • JonWood says:

      PC increasingly doesn’t mean desktop. As one piece of anecdata my gaming machine is hooked up to the TV, and occasionally I stream games up to my laptop which is on a desk with a keyboard and mouse. (In writing that I’ve realised how bizarre it sounds – the laptop runs Linux and is primarily used for work.)

    • roothorick says:

      The PC isn’t exclusively the domain of a desk and a dedicated-purpose monitor. It’s an impressively flexible platform now; it goes where it wants and does what it wants. Most PC enthusiasts have their rig or even a dedicated second computer hooked up to the big screen in front of their couch, and local multiplayer games are a regular go-to for entertaining guests.

      Can Rock Band 4 flourish in this day and age? That’s a good question. But if it fails, it won’t be due to the nature of the platform.

  6. iainl says:

    Pity they’re not porting the far superior Rock Band 3. 4 is just a massively cut-down version (no pro instruments, no online) released so the current generation of consoles can play the game.

  7. Donkeyfumbler says:

    Think I’ll stick with Phase Shift – works perfectly well with my existing plastic instruments and it’s free.