Rock Band Beatles – Facts and Opinions

Last week saw the announcement of a few more details on the Harmonix developed Beatles music game. The information can be described in one or two sentences, and doesn’t add up to much more than a release date, but that hasn’t stopped many from speculating, worrying, and hoping. However, using common sense and just a bit of guesswork, we can try and make some more accurate predictions.

Fact 1: The game will be released on September 9th, 2009.

Christian’s take: This all but guarantees that there will not be a Rock Band 3 this year. In fact, Harmonix already said so a while ago. I don’t think anyone will have a problem with this. The market for downloadable songs is lucrative right now, and retail shelves are already stuffed to the gills with hardware. There aren’t enough possible upgrades to justify a new disc based RB right now.

At the same time, this release ensures that HMX and pals continue their streak of yearly game releases, while honoring the band at the same time (September will be the 40th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road).

Fact 2: The game’s official name will be The Beatles: Rock Band.

Christian’s take: For some reason people are convinced that the fact that the Rock Band name is in the title will mean that this is will be nothing more than a Beatles skinned spinoff, much like the Guitar Hero franchise has opted for. This flies in the face of the original press releases, which stated that this will be its own, original game. Of course, this is not a guarantee of anything either. What we can say that this will not be a one to one reskinning of Rock Band. You may be able to outfit the band members in various ways, but there simply won’t be a create a rocker feature. I also doubt that the traditional world tour mode will be implemented the same way. I wouldn’t be surprised if the graphics engine is modified – I don’t see the cartoonish Rock Band models and familiar grain filtering working here.

People have to remember that this game is not about us and our wish fulfillment. It is about a pre-existing band with a pre-existing history, one that the surviving members are not going to let anyone fuck around with. The core Rock Band gameplay will likely remain untouched, but beyond that it is anyone’s guess.

Fact 3: The game will be released on all three consoles, and there will be a premium $250 instrument bundle inspired by the band. Early preorderers will also be given some extra, unknown goodies.

Christian’s take: I’ll admit right now that I’m preordering the fuck bundle (and selling off all but two of my old controllers to make space). I advise anyone else interested in it to do the same. I do not see this one being released in the same quantity as previous instrument bundles. Not only are there too many of those sitting around (meaning retailers will be cranky about carrying this one), but $250 is the cost of a Wii. That’s enough to make many Beatles fans shy away, to say nothing about traditionally cheap general purpose gamers.

As to what the box will contain, I have no idea. I am hopeful but not certain that it will contain two guitar controllers, as not letting bundle users play bass right off the bat would be suicide. It is possible that the controllers will be modeled after instruments that made the band famous, but that depends on licensing. The only thing we can guarantee is that the set will not be worth 250 bucks. The Beatles have been able to charge premium prices for a very long time, and this isn’t going to be any different.

Fact 4: The game will not allow you to transfer songs to Rock Band 2.

Christian’s take: This wasn’t actually mentioned in the new information, but is my own assertion. The original announcement of this project stressed that this is a standalone product, and that integration with Rock Band was not yet something they would discuss. The fact that Rock Band is now in the title may make it a possibility, but I don’t think it is anything more than a bit of brand reinforcement to assure a younger gamer market for whom the band alone is not a sign of quality.

Don’t get me wrong – it could happen. But knowing what I do about the band, I don’t see Paul McCartney being pleased with the idea of your hipster, virtual band member belting out Sgt. Pepper. The Beatles always do things their way, and are one of the few groups that can do what they want, against the grain of the entire industry. I know this doesn’t put them in a very good light with people not already infatuated with them, but it is reality.

The whole situation makes me angry because of how stupid people are acting. Every comment about transferring songs to RB2 (and there are many) baffles me. Some people, in traditional Internet fashion, read the original press release from last year without actually reading it, and forgot any of the details. The rest likely remember but think that pure hope and repetition will make their dreams come true.

No, the AC/DC track pack does not prove anything. That was clearly labeled as a track pack, and had nothing about AC/DC in it aside from the tracks (all of which were live recordings in order to get around the group’s stinginess with releasing their songs as singles). Is a bit of thought too much to ask for?

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Spyder Mayhem
Spyder Mayhem
15 years ago

On a similar but different note, Rock Band is releasing a Funk 3-Pack next week which includes James Brown, Earth, Wind and Fire and Average White Band. While this may not be as earth-shattering as a game devoted to the Beatles, it still makes me very happy.

I will indeed “get on the scene like a sex machine” next Thursday.

15 years ago

Nice writeup Christian. Expect the internet to continue to churn lies, but I think the biggest thing to watch out for this release is the interface and the peripherals and if they meet the standards one would hold for the band. Beyond that, the game is written for them– so its up to Harmonix to make the facade gleam and the Beatles proud.

Can Rock Band go classy? I say yes.