Electronic Arts may be sitting comfortably in its California-based headquarters, but in the case of its Rock Band franchise, the company seems to have forgotten that there's a whole world that exists outside of North American,.
The Rock Band debacle has been lively debated across the net, including the HEXUS.community discussion forums, with the general conclusion being that EA has shafted the rest of the world with deliberately long delays and inflated prices.
With North America expecting an October 19th release of Rock Band 2, we guess the rest of the world will have to wait yet again, whilst EA execs plan their next assault on the pockets of gamers outside of the North America region.
Spare a thought for the Australians though, who will no doubt be livid about news this week that they won't get to play Rock Band at all. The issue, according to IGN, is that retailers aren't keen to stock a year-old product. We guess that they'd taken one look at the pricing structure and decided that it just wasn't worth the hassle of having such a bulky overpriced product on their shelves. The Rock Band accessory pack was going to retail at $269.95, with the game costing $119.95. It would have been a hefty price to pay for a game that launched for $199 in the US.
What pisses us off is that Rock Band came out in Europe on May 23rd on Xbox 360, six months after the US release. When we saw the launch price on GAME's website (£129.99 for the instruments, and £49.99 for the game - £179.98 in total) we were annoyed that the price was so much higher in Europe than North America. However, it didn't take retailers too long to realise that this price point was way beyond the pocket of the average Joe Bloggs and soon other deals came along bringing the price to around £140-£150. We still couldn't help but get the feeling that we're being shafted, even with a £30-£40 price reduction.
And then...to really rub salt into the wounds, EA announced Rock Band 2, barely a few weeks after the UK launch of Rock Band! Now that's really annoying.
Forgive our pessimism here, but the pattern does suggest that the rest of the world will be shafted once again with Rock Band 2, with Inflated pricing and a release date that will give us ample time to grow fully formed ZZ Top-styled beards, whilst North Americans jam away for many months with their affordabely-priced Rock Band kits. Let's hope EA prove us wrong.
Rock Band is a great game, that's not the issue here. We even recently listed it top of a feature entitled the greatest music and rhythmn-based videogames. What our problem is, is that we have to wait so much longer to play it and then pay considerably over the odds to do so.
Whilst US consumers are eagerly awaiting Rock Band 2, we get the feeling that the rest of the world could and possibly should set its sights on Activision's similar offering, Guitar Hero: World Tour, rather than Rock Band 2 (The North American Tour). That's unless Activision decide to take a similar route to EA and shaft us as well.