I really wish Rock Band was a less interesting game. Really, I do, because I feel bad being the one writing about it so much on here. Unfortunately, few games have provided this many different points of discussion lately, and since I know you guys are hungry for something to read, you’ll have to bear with me. At least you’ll eventually figure out I’m barely talking about the game itself in these posts.
So, one of Rock Band 2’s lauded features was an additional twenty songs available for free download sometime after the game was released; the track list was announced this week. It’s a common misconception that either (a) Harmonix is offering these songs later because they didn’t have time to finish them before the game’s certification, or (b) they wanted to ultimately offer up more tracks for RB2 than Activision is with Guitar Hero: World Tour. And while I’m sure those are both true, it’s not the actual reason for the songs; GameStop is.
It’s no secret that EA has been using the constant drip of free DLC in Burnout Paradise to keep people playing and cut down on the number of used copies showing up at GameStop. Similarly, the absolute flood of downloadable content for Rock Band is a great reason not to trade it in. With so many tracks (approaching 500 by the end of the year, I believe), everyone is going to find something they like, and once you start buying songs, why would you trade the game in and throw that money away?
[[image: ar_102208_rb2dlc_01.jpg:It’s getting hard to find new RB pictures to post.:center:0]]
The twenty free songs, then, are an effort to dissuade potential customers from purchasing the game used. Those tracks are part of the game’s perceived value to a consumer, and making them accessible through a unique code means you can never access them if you use someone else’s game. EA is effectively attacking GameStop’s business model from both sides: less people are inclined to sell their game, and less people want to buy it used and risk missing out.
…Which is why it’s surprising they aren’t better songs.
I’m not slighting anyone’s musical taste, but these are hardly big-name bands you’d put on the back of the box. There are hundreds of huge artists people are clamoring for in Rock Band; how much more effective would this strategy be if this code were the only way to, say, access a Green Day song, among others? The harder they make it to ignore the twenty freebies, the more the value of the used disc would plummet. I’m not sure whom to blame for choosing these songs (since Harmonix, MTV, and EA are all equally likely candidates), and EA’s so big that I’m sure the left hand doesn’t know what the right is up to half the time, but it’s a shame this plan went from a D-Day to a Bay of Pigs.
Not that I want to imply GameStop is Badd, or anything.