There was a brief moment last generation when the likes of Rock Band and Guitar Hero ruled the gaming industry. Rhythm-based games exploded in popularity thanks to the social experience of playing with friends, and third party companies like Mad Catz rushed to get additional peripherals to market and cash in on the craze.
But if Rock Band 4 causes another spike in popularity for music games when it releases later this year, Mad Catz will already have its foot in the door. The company announced this week that it is co-publishing the game alongside developer Harmonix to provide a better experience for fans.
“Co-publishing the game allows us to work closer than ever before with Harmonix, delivering a seamless experience from game through hardware and ensuring we focus on the needs of the gamer first and foremost,” said Mad Catz Global PR Director Alex Verrey in a post on the company’s website.
Mad Catz was already in charge of making all of the wireless instruments for the upcoming game, but this deal means the company will now also assist with sales, promotion and distribution for the title.
This development should be welcome news from a gameplay standpoint. Mad Catz already had previous experience with the franchise, but a co-publishing deal that gets them even closer to development should help ensure that the new controllers are optimized well for the game. That said, there shouldn’t be any drastic changes compared to the older controllers.
One concern, however, is what this means for backwards compatibility with previous Rock Band and Guitar Hero instruments. It was previously reported that Harmonix is working on making as many of the old instruments work with Rock Band 4 as possible. But with Mad Catz now more financially involved with the title, one has to wonder if compatibility with legacy instruments will be limited (at least somewhat) in order to push gamers towards buying the new hardware.
For whatever it’s worth, Harmonix does sound like it’s taking a more long term view for the game’s success, noting in a statement that DLC expansions are in the works and that it’s viewing Rock Band 4 as an “ongoing platform” where “new functionality can be added over time” instead of relying on annual $60 title releases.
Harmonix has previously said that Rock Band 4 will take advantage of the current generation of hardware to create a more lifelike, visual experience for the game. The developer is aiming for 1080p and 60 frames per second as well. Gamers can still help influence development of the title by requesting what songs they want through Harmonix’s website.
Rock Band 4 releases in 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.