EA has been taking a beating of sorts as of late in terms of customers upset over one decision or another that the publisher has made. What they’ll now be doing to the iOS version of Rock Band, however, is sure to upset a great many people.
Released in November 2010, the original version of Rock Band for iOS is still on sale at this very moment—it’s sitting in Apple’s iTunes Store for $4.99. There’s just one problem with that—the game will be shutting down on May 31st.
When I say “shutting down”, I don’t mean support for online multiplayer servers or leaderboards or anything like that. I mean that, as far as all information is pointing to as of this moment, the entire game will stop working on that date.
MysteryMan over on the official Rock Band Forums was presented with the above image when trying to play the game. Since word of this started spreading around the internet, EA updated their FAQ for Rock Band iOS, which now states the following.
I’ve heard ROCK BAND will not be available after May 31. Is this true?
Yes, we will be suspending support of ROCK BAND after May 31 and focusing resources on other EA titles. We thank everyone for playing ROCK BAND, and we encourage you to explore some of the other exciting titles in our mobile line-up.
Can I still play ROCK BAND if I’ve already downloaded it?
The ROCK BAND servers will be live through May 31, 2012. If you have already downloaded the game, you can continue to play until then.
Yes, that’s right: A game you purchased, either for $4.99 or it’s previous price of $9.99, will simply no longer be playable. Exact reasons for this are not yet known—but on a personal level, if all of this is indeed true, I find this utterly ridiculous and beyond insulting. If it were a question of song licensing rights or wanting to push newer versions of the game instead, I could understand pulling the game from the iTunes Store. But taking away the ability to play a copy I’ve purchased? That is akin to, one day, coming to my house and demanding that I give back the PS3 copy of NCAA Football 2010 that I own. That would be the exact same thing—there’s simply no argument otherwise.
This move is coming as a surprise to many—including those at Rock Band creator Harmonix. Here’s what Haromix director of communications & brand management John T. Drake had to say earlier on Twitter:
To those asking: @Harmonix doesn’t publish Rock Band on iOS. Working to better understand what’s up ASAP. Sorry we don’t have more info yet.
EA has been a company known for wanting to control their own services and servers on the games they release, and this has caused a number of issues in the past; EA is one of the only companies this generation to pull their games offline en-masse, due to them using their own matchmaking servers versus those provided by Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo. If the shuttering of Rock Band iOS is due to similar reasons, then it’s yet another sign of why such a strategy is absolutely terrible for consumers.
Update: A short time ago, EA sent a reply to CNET, clarifying the situation with Rock Band for iOS—stating that, in fact, the game will not be deactivating itself come May 31st. Here is the statement from CNET:
“Rock Band for iOS will remain live – the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error. We apologize for the confusion this caused. We’re working to clarify the issue that caused the error and will share additional information as soon as possible.”
Now, of course, comes the question: Was this indeed just a goof, or is it a case of EA seeing the sudden wave of negative publicity and changing their minds on the matter? The FAQ information above did indeed show up on their site—it is, however, now noticeably absent. As well, the wording of that in-game message seems to be no accident.
Whatever the case, the result is that Rock Band will live on to play another day.
Update source: CNET