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Thank you for the music: The Rock Band Story

Friday, 19 July 2013 08:00 GMT By Dave Cook

Rock Band has brought gamers together in the name of music since 2007. VG247′s Dave Cook spoke with Harmonix devs Greg LoPiccolo and Daniel Sussman about the origin, evolution and future of the franchise.

Rock Band

Developed by Guitar Hero creators Harmonix, Rock Band released in North America on November 20, 2007. It then spawned two core instalments and spin-offs, including The Beatles: Rock Band.

The series’ DLC run ended on April 9 this year, and at the time the Rock Band Store housed some 1,500 downloadable songs.

Although the core series has stopped for now, the XBLA title Rock Band Blitz is a superb hark back to earlier Harmonix title Amplitude.

Harmonix is also known for the Dance Central series of Kinect games, and is rumoured to be working on a game called Chroma. Nothing is known about the project at present.

Harmonix published its last Rock Band song DLC on April 2 this year. It was Don McLean’s classic ‘American Pie’.

The studio made clear it was the Rock Band store’s swansong, but a huge question mark now hangs over the franchise. Will it return on next-gen formats, and if so what form will it take?

As a long-time fan of Harmonix – from the days of Frequency and Amplitude, right through Guitar Hero and the Rock Band trilogy – I wanted to know more.

I recently spoke with the studio’s chief creative officer Greg LoPiccolo, and project director Daniel Sussman to discuss the birth of the series, the true extent of its cultural impact, and to get a clearer idea of what could happen next.

After all, the Rock Band franchise isn’t just a series of games; it was a cultural phenomenon that took centre stage at parties and family gatherings, bringing many of us together in front of one console in an age currently obsessed with the idea of isolated online play.

It gave those without the talent, time or budget to form a real band an avenue to express themselves to songs that perhaps held a personal meaning, and it offered a colossal library of tracks that spoke to everyone’s personal taste in different ways.

Rock Band was an open invitation party that asked very little of the player, but it gave so much in return. Players could rekindle friendships over the closing crescendo of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, or get fired up before a boozy night out to Tom Morello’s riffage on Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Testify’. It was fun, pure and simple.

Guitar Hero and the MTV sale

LoPiccolo explained that the Rock Band concept was borne from humble beginnings. Contracted by now-defunct electronics company Red Octane, Harmonix was commissioned to develop a guitar simulator concept, and created a note track mechanic that bore similarities to the UI of its previous game Amplitude. The team eventually dubbed its project ‘Guitar Hero’.

“We started with a couple of test songs that Eric Brosius [Guitar Hero audio lead, now Audio Director] worked up,” LoPiccolo recalled, “and we had a very simple UI where 2D line segments representing notes dropped to intersect with a line across the bottom. We knew we wanted 5 buttons pretty early on, so that we’d cover all four fingers with fret positions, and we could force a hand position shift for expert players. 

“All the second order stuff; chords, sustain and so on fell pretty naturally out of that initial crude interface.  For the guitar controller, we had list of requests that we made to Red Octane, and they ran with it, and pretty much gave us everything we needed. We were very focused on the button and strum bar feel, so we had to iterate on those features, but it came together pretty smoothly.”

Sussman added, “The fact that we were doing all of that while we were working with in-progress guitar designs made it all the more difficult. The hardware design was a whole different saga. At the time, Red Octane was our publisher and they were primarily known as developer of premium video game controllers.

“They were very open to ideas we had about the overall form, and function, of the controller. I believe our art director Ryan Lesser suggested the classic SG shape. We also suggested that the guitar have a whammy bar well before we knew what we’d do with it.”

Guitar Hero launched on PS2 in November 2005 and currently holds a Metacritic rating of 91, compiling 47 tracks onto one disc that spanned generations of rock. It was a big hit that delivered a fresh control method and served as a fun way to play together with friends.

Work began on Guitar Hero 2 under new publisher Activision, which had acquired Red Octane in June 2006, while Harmonix itself was purchased by MTV Networks in September that year. Just as the studio left the booming franchise it had spawned, the game launched across North America on November 7, 2006 and went on to sell over 3 million copies in its life-span.

Although Harmonix had to walk away from Guitar Hero just as it was enjoying an incredible degree of success, its strong sales validated the appeal of the music peripheral format, and so the studio soldiered on and started to conceptualise something new and potentially revolutionary.

Get ready to rock and/or roll

“Once Activision purchased Red Octane, they owned the Guitar Hero brand,” Sussman explained. “We were never able to work out a deal with Activision to continue to develop Guitar Hero and in fact, we wanted to push the boundaries of Guitar Hero way beyond guitar. So the Rock Band franchise was born.”

The Guitar Hero concept was expanded to include drums, bass and vocal tracks that all played out in unison, allowing four people to work together simultaneously. Over time the Rock Band formula started to take shape, and it bore a more realistic visual style, sophisticated UI and robust, technically complicated peripherals that were both accurate and fun to use.

Sussman added that creating the controllers was hardly a walk in the park. “Some day I’ll write a book about my experiences developing hardware for Rock Band,” he said. ”It was an extraordinary experience across the board.

“Each controller has hundreds of parts, the assemblies are delicate and complicated, the testing process was its own feat of creative engineering – there was so much that could go wrong. I still get chills when I see hardware in stores, or people’s homes, and think about the journey that those little guitars and drums made.”

But when it came to crafting the game’s actual songs, Harmonix had the process down to something of a fine art, and Sussman was more than happy to explain the steps from start to finish. “The process behind Rock Band song authoring has evolved quite a bit over the lifespan of the franchise. At this point, it’s pretty sophisticated, and there are quite a few factors that go into choosing each track.”

Identifying what songs the team wanted to include on disc and as part of the game’s weekly DLC updates boiled down to several factors. The first factor was personal taste, meaning that any songs the developers themselves wanted to play in Rock Band were up for consideration. There had to be a good mix of tracks released each week, so changing up genres between packs was a key factor.

Finally, the studio’s constant dialogue with record labels helped Harmonix pick out songs from bands that were perhaps on tour, what artists they wanted to highlight, or songs that tied in to recent album releases.

Sussman continued, “Once we settle on a song, it generally takes a couple of weeks to get the multi-track masters mixed, bounced out and sent to us. That’s when we start the authoring process. The bulk of authoring is done by the note authoring team, though there is also lip sync for vocals, and also camera and lights scripting that needs to be done by an artist.  

“It is really quite a collaborative effort. We’re also constantly testing to make sure that the authoring team is getting early feedback, not just on bugs, but on the quality of the feedback. The final part of the process is a final rigorous testing routine where each track is combed over at each difficulty.”  

It’s a creative process that began before Rock Band launched in November of 2007, and ended when the DLC store came to a close on April 9, 2013. At the time of its closure the Rock Band store featured over 1,500 tracks that had been collectively downloaded over 100 million times, and that’s not including the hundreds of songs submitted independently on Rock Band Network.

The day the music died.

Rock Band Network is particularly interesting, as it gave artists the opportunity to create their own note tracks and submit songs independently to the swelling Harmonix DLC store. It gave rise to a more diverse range of artists, encompassing bands from heavier genres such as iwrestledabearonce, Norma Jean and Emmure.

“I candidly can’t quite remember how it got traction,” LoPiccolo explained. “Certainly we were getting inundated with requests from a lot of indie bands and their fans to include music that we were never going to get to, and we found the whole idea of crowd-sourcing content to be in line with our values and priorities as a developer. It ended up being a very complex and difficult system to develop, but it worked.

“We had no idea what kind of uptake we would get, and the response has been super gratifying. We now have more Rock Band Network songs in the library than we do Harmonix-authored songs. It is not particularly easy to make songs as you really have to learn a whole new skill, and there are tons of details that need to be attended to, which makes it all the more impressive how many people learned the tools and created songs.”

Sussman added, “It was a very ambitious project on both the game integration front, in that we had to figure out all kinds of back end server solutions, legal issues as well as making sure we weren’t crossing any policy concerns of the various first party companies – Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

“This also applied on the authoring tools front, as we were basically putting together a music editing suite that players could use to author the note charts, the lighting cues, and other song metadata. We also had to create and nurture a community of people to get behind the idea, as it would only be successful if people used it.”

Rock Band Network can certainly be considered a success, but at the time of writing Harmonix has stopped accepted submissions from artists, and together with the closure of the Rock Band DLC store, it shrouds the future of the franchise in uncertainty,

I asked LoPiccolo why Harmonix decided to call time on Rock Band DLC, and if he or anyone at the studio had any plans for its eventual return. “We have every intention to return to Rock Band,” he replied, “and we expect that the next-gen consoles that are being unveiled will give us all sorts of new creative possibilities to pursue. But we are currently super busy with lots of other creative initiatives, some of which you’ll be hearing about soon.

“I don’t know that we have any special insight about why those games got so huge so fast, or why they declined when they did. We just make them. But we do believe that Rock Band play remains one of the premier multiplayer game experiences on the planet, and we expect it to appeal to future generations of gamers as they discover it.”

“There is a lot more we would like to do with the franchise, and we look forward to getting back into development when the time is right.”

Time of your life

If there’s one thing to take away from Rock Band’s legacy then – again – it must surely be its cultural impact. From South Park’s hilarious parody of Eric Cartman singing Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’, to spawning the idea of the ‘Rock Band party’, you’d be hard-pressed to find many gamers who haven’t yet had a brush with the plastic delights of the franchise.

One topic that was often debated at the peak of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band craze was the impact it was having on the musical arts. Some bands and artists slammed both franchises for merely simulating instrumental talent, and suggested that they were stopping youngsters from picking up a real guitar. I asked LoPiccolo and Sussman for their thoughts on the matter.

“We have heard many stories about kids who started with Guitar Hero or Rock Band and were inspired to go on to develop actual instrumental skills,” LoPiccolo replied, “so it clearly had that effect on a lot of players. The drums in particular can teach you some drumming skills that are then transferrable to an actual kit. But we also learned that not everyone wants to become a musician; some folks just want to get together with their friends and have some musical fun, and that is also OK.”

Sussman added, “I love video games and think that they can play positive roles in peoples’ lives. In particular, I think that games that focus on cultural or artistic elements can often expose people to new things. One of my favorite Guitar Hero stories had to do with a friend of mine’s daughter hearing The Ramones for the first time.  

“We always understood that we were making a game, even when we were designing the Rock Band Pro feature for Rock Band 3. The idea that some percentage of people would then extend the experience to something genuinely musical was always a kind of bonus for us. I find it inspirational when we hear stories of Rock Band players who traded their plastic instruments for real ones.”

It’s been a wild, inspirational ride for Harmonix as well, a ride that has seen them meet their musical idols, tinker with instruments and songs they grew up listening to, only to then see the series explode worldwide. LoPiccolo offered me a personal anecdote to close our discussion, and to sum up what he felt was his proudest moment working on the franchise.

“Somewhere in the middle of development of The Beatles: Rock Band, Yoko Ono came to visit us in Cambridge to review our progress. She had a lot to say.  John wasn’t yet in his final form in terms of modelling or animation, and she wasn’t shy about describing the standard that she wanted us to hit. All her feedback was spot on, so we worked very hard to meet her expectations, and we did. She then let us know that we had, and that was really meaningful and rewarding.
 
When we got the final animation work back from Passion Pictures – they did the intro and outro cinematics for The Beatles: Rock Band – we got to see how the game would end, with giant flowers blooming over London. It was very emotional to see their whole career arc end so gracefully in the context of the game that we worked so hard on”.

He then read out the some lines of Beatle’s classic ‘The End’, as featured in the game’s superbly-animated outro, ‘And in the end, the love you take Is equal to the love you make’, and added, “Which is ultimately how we have always felt about Rock Band as well. Seriously.”

Are you a fan of Rock Band? Are you sad to see the DLC store come to a close? How would you like to see the franchise return moving forward? Feel free to share your fond memories of the series with us below.

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6 Comments

  1. Ignatius_Cheese

    Fantastic article. Harmonix are one of my favourite developers by far.

    The number of hours I’ve spent rocking out to Guitar Hero and then Rock Band shows that they really nailed the mechanics from day one.

    My only regret is that they didn’t release any more Beatles DLC. I would have loved for every album to be released in Rock Band form.

    Still, the achievements of this company cannot be underestimated – no matter what you think about Dance Central. The talent and passion of the creative staff oozes from every title and I look forward to what they have to offer in the future.

    So I say thank you for the music for giving it to me.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Alex Donaldson

    Harmonix has built one of the most amazing communities and game brands of the generation, even if it has fallen from the interest of the mainstream in recent years. They deserve massive props – and as someone who has spent hundreds on Rock Band DLC, I’m thankful for everything they did.

    Amazing article, too. Sad it’s all over..!

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @1 & 2 thanks guys, means a lot :)

    This article really was a little pet project to be honest, I’ve had many amazing parties and hang-outs with friends over Rock Band. It’s been the centrepiece to so many gatherings and it really is great fun. I just felt I had to get in touch with Harmonix and do a send-off of sorts.

    Wonder if it’ll return on next-gen?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. sh4dow

    “Rock Band has brought gamers together”

    I don’t know. My experience with random people online was horrible (but then again – the same thing was true for Bioshock… there apparently just are too many idiots on XBL) and when I played with a friend… well… just two people doesn’t really do much. Because either you try to highscore alone or as a full band – anything in between seems pointless.

    And the horribly overpriced DLC… that’s something that absolutely has to change in ALL music games. It is not only very frustrating for gamers but is probably also counterproductive for the companies. Because I don’t wanna know how many people went “They want WHAT for one damn song!? Fuck that, I’m just gonna download that shit!”

    But that’s not to say the basic game (even though I would appreciate a successor to Frequency/Amplitude even more) wasn’t still great. It was a lot of fun trying to get gold stars on expert drums and trying to crack the last few songs.

    And come to think of it… actually… enjoying the game (and also Guitar Freaks and of course Guitar Hero) and seeing the DLC prices might have been what made me buy a cheap guitar instead. And that was a very good thing. Best damn 30-40€ I ever spent.
    So maybe they should even increase the DLC prices ;)

    Anyway… overall… keep up the good work, Harmonix! :)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. sh4dow

    This just reminds me that I recently found a signed Freezepop album limited to 300 pieces or so while digging through old stuff (I was sure I had lost it and was incredibly sad about that). And if I remember correctly, they were/are tied to Harmonix somehow?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. ashers2ashers

    @3 I’ve also spent hundred’s on DLC – it’s a big factor for why I’ll never sell my seldom played 360 these days. Will be great to keep around for nostalgia like the SNES and Mega Drive 2 I sadly traded in when I was young and desperate for new PS2 games :(

    @4 I think the DLC price was no more than £1.69 a song, and for an iTunes download being £0.79, 90 pence more for a fully interactive and playable music format compared to one which can only be heard in one way is easily worth that price!

    @5 Indeed they are! Honest Bob and the factory-to-dealer Incentives are also and both of those bands I love as a result of discovering them in Rock Band 1 (and Less Talk More Rokk from Guitar Hero 2). I think most if not all of the 9 or so “bonus” tracks in Rock Band had ties to members of Harmonix or Boston (the state not the band :P ) being in the bands and such. Pretty sure Bang Camaro were another one of those?

    Rock Band basically taught me how to play the drums, the instrument I’d wanted to play the most since around 8 years of age, but had to settle for a guitar as drums were too big, expensive, and loud. :)
    Even playing Guitar Hero made my under-used little finger stronger when playing the real guitar, I don’t think the people who slammed it for merely being a simulation either played it or witnessed other people play it properly. The lessons of practicing any instrument (real or fake) such as patience and discipline are great and won’t necesarily be as physically and mentally stimulating with other video games.

    Reading that last bit about The Beatles is making me wanna play that game again with my new uni housemates. I learnt a lot of their catalogue from the game; including learning a bunch of songs I never realised were by them until I played them in the game!

    tl;dl Rock Band/Harmonix are great and will never die!

    #6 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • The Witcher 3: live Q&A stream with CDP, new monster dev diary inside

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is out in just two weeks, and if you want to know more about Geralt’s latest adventure, CD Projekt is hosting a live Q&A now on Twitch. There’s also a new developer diary below which focuses on monster in the game. The Witcher 3 is out on May 19. Huzzah! […]

  • Forza Horizon 2′s Alpinestars Car Pack has five cars and is ready for download

    The Alpinestars Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 is out now on Xbox One and its the only way you will ever be able to afford a 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. Unless, of course, you win the lottery or are left in some rich person’s will. In that case, I’ll take the ’53 Corvette, […]

  • Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition is now available in North America

    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition has been released in North America. It will be made available in the Europe on May 7 and in the UK May 8 for £49.99 on consoles and £34.99 on PC. As previously announced, this edition contains all previously released DLC content as well as […]

  • Two GAME exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians now available for pre-order

    GAME has announced two exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians, and both are now available for pre-order exclusively through one of the retail chain’s 318 stores or online. The £79.99 Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians, which delivers new digital content wrapped in a steel book. There’s also the £199.99 Halo 5: Guardians Limited Collector’s Edition […]

  • Deals with Gold: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Bioshock Infinite, more

    Microsoft has announced its latest Deals with Gold discounts for Xbox Live Gold members. Franchises on sale include Far Cry, Call of Duty, along with individual titles Assassin’s Creed Unity and Bioshock Infinite. The full list is below. Bioshock Infinite discounts are available for both Xbox Live Gold and Silver members. Xbox One Far Cry […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has released, watch the launch trailer here

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has launched on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can watch the launch trailer for it below. Boxed copies in Europe arrive from May 15, and in Australia/New Zealand on May 14. You can grab digital copies from the following online services: Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Store.

  • GOG’s online service GOG Galaxy is now in open beta

    GOG Galaxy, the DRM-free online gaming platform from the folks at GOG, has left Alpha and is now in open beta for all to try. As previously announced, the online service, similar to Steam, is option. Players do not need to play online as all games are stored by the service and can be played […]

  • DayZ-inspired Goat Simulator DLC GoatZ is out this week on Steam

    Goat Simulator players can download DayZ-inspired DLC this week called GoatZ. According to Coffee Stain Studios, GoatZ is “the only survival game on Steam that isn’t in Early Access.” Jokingly of course. The DLC features: Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it. Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living […]

  • No, Far Cry 4 is not currently free on PSN

    You may have seen a few Tweets from people saying that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 is available to download from PSN for free. This is not true. A few readers have tipped us off to what looked like a glitch on PSN that allowed players to download the full version of Far […]

  • Metal Gear Solid: The 1984 Collection confirmed to be a clothing line

    Konami is teasing a Metal Gear Solid thing called “The 1984 Collection.” The Metal Gear Solid Facebook page posted this image about an hour ago: The caption reads, “Step back into the 80′s with our new MGS collection coming very soon! Stay tuned!” This is supposedly in reference to the clothing line that was announced […]

  • Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World & Scooby Doo packs listed for Lego Dimensions

    Lego Dimensions is likely getting a few unannounced content packs. One of which is themed around Valve’s Portal. A set of unannounced content packs for the upcoming Lego Dimensions have been revealed by US retailer Walmart. The listings include packs for The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Jurassic World, and most interestingly, Portal. The listings have […]

  • This is the most authentic recreation of GTA 2 in real life ever

    Affordable drones have many uses. Most of them are not nearly as exciting as recreating GTA 2 in real life. I am surprised it took us this long, but someone has finally captured footage using a drone that resembles the protagonist’s experience in the classic GTA 2. These aren’t just shots of cars from a […]

  • PlayStation 4 sales reach 2m in the UK

    Sony has sold 2 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the UK, faster than it did with the PlayStation 2 – the company’s best-selling machine in the country. MCVUK is reporting that as of last weekend, 2 million PlayStation 4s have been sold in the UK. The data is based on GfK Chart-Track estimates. This makes […]

  • H1Z1 gets female characters, skin colour options planned

    In an effort to improve diversity in the game, H1Z1 developer has added female characters. Female survivors can now be found throughout the world of H1Z1. Developer Daybreak added the new feature in a patch released last Friday. You will be able to choose a female avatar in the main game and in Battle Royale. […]

  • Possible teaser site for Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi’s new game opens

    Either Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi is working on a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter for his new game, or someone is pulling an elaborate prank. At PAX Prime last year, during Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 panel, a flyer was handed out to attendees that showed what appeared to be a 2D game of some sort with […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for May 5: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    Tuesday is here and Destiny’s weekly reset is also here. Bungie announced that your weekly Destiny grind has now begun. The Nightfall and Heroic strikes are now live too. This week’s strike is Winter’s Run. Rainbow burn is back for the Nightfall, which means you do more damage with all elemental weapons, but also receive […]

  • PC version of Project Cars delayed in Australia due to severe weather

    Recent weather conditions in Sydney, Australia are responsible for a slight delay of the PC version of Project Cars in the country. Sydney recently suffered from storms that caused flooding in some areas. One of those is the place where publisher Namco Bandai was storing PC copies of Project Cars. The stock was “severely damaged,” […]

  • Twitch’s new process makes it easier for streamers to appeal flagged content

    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]

  • Halo: MCC “a black eye for us,” Halo 5 won’t suffer the same fate, says franchise director

    The development of Halo: The Master Chief Collection was of an “outrageous complexity,” which was one of the reasons it suffered a horrible launch. None of that will happen with Halo 5: Guardians, according to Frank O’Connor. Frank O’Connor, Halo franchise development director opened up to Xbox Achievements about the difficult task of developing The […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: weapon Reforging explained

    When House of Wolves drops in a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to change the stats of some in-game weapons. This process is called ‘Reforging’. Alex goes over all the details Bungie revealed about the new Reforging system. This covers the materials you need, the weapons that can be reforged and much more. Make […]

  • GTA 5 PC: control the in-game phone with your iPhone using this mod

    GTA 5′s latest mod lets you control the in-game phone with your real-life iPhone. Reddit user Planetleak wanted to see if he would succeed in getting his iPhone to control the phone in GTA 5. He did it and has a video to prove it. It’s not a mod per-se, but it emulates mouse and […]

  • SoulCalibur dev wants to know fans’ favourite characters for “something huge”

    SoulCalibur developers are probably working on a new game, because they’re asking fans to vote on their favourite characters. Project Soul, the longtime developer of the SoulCalibur series is soliciting feedback on fans’ favourite characters. The developer said as much in a post on its Facebook page. “Calling all SoulCalibur Fans! Project Soul would like […]

  • Jason Voorhees doesn’t look out of place in new Mortal Kombat X trailer

    Jason Voorhees comes to Mortal Kombat X starting tomorrow and it’s time to celebrate his arrival. Jason Voorhees, the first DLC character for Mortal Kombat X has been given the trailer treatment. Jason is part of the game’s Kombat Pack, owners of which can start using him tomorrow, May 5. Being an iconic horror character, […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Dragonslayer DLC announced, free to all this week

    Dragon Age: Inquisition is getting a multiplayer expansion this week. BioWare has announced that all owners of Dragon Age: Inquisition will receive a new multiplayer expansion, for free. The expansion is called Dragonslayer and it’s centred around fighting dragons, hence the name. Three new playable characters will join the roster as you explore an all-new […]

  • Sonder is still happening, and this is the best news of the week

    Sonder is a really interesting-looking new indie adventure, which I am quite excited to remember exists. We first heard about Sonder in late 2013, when its debut trailer introduced us to a Kamai Media’s ambitious vision. In the intervening months Kamai has been hard at work on its space station management sim slash non-linear narrative […]

  • Twitter axes playable Internet Archive embeds

    The dream has died: Twitter has disabled Internet Archive game embeds. Remember how for a few days you could tweet a link to an a game on the Internet Archive and it was playable direct from that tweet? Well, Twitter has cancelled that. All those tweets now just show links. GamesIndustry suspects it has something […]

  • Lords of the Fallen, Divinity: Original Sin developers will reveal new games at E3 2015

    Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 and Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios have new projects in the works which will be revealed at E3 2015. Publisher Focus Home Interactive is behind both new games. In a French press release [PDF] spotted by RPG Codex, Focus said it will show off the two unrevealed titles […]

  • Rare game announce expected at E3 2015

    Rare’s new game will be shown off at E3 2015, apparently. Rare hasn’t announced a reveal, and neither has Microsoft, but it looks like the news has slipped out anyway. IGN cites a tweet from Rare creative director Simon Woodroffe in which he says that a new project from Rare designer Gregg Mayles will be […]

  • Batgirl expansion included in $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass

    Here’s what you get in the $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass. Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced last week, but apart from the news that it would cost a whopping $40/£33, we didn’t get many details of what it would include. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has since acknowledged the clamour this caused, as players […]

  • Star Wars Day Xbox sale discounts Force Unleashed, Lego games

    Star Wars Day is upon us, and here’s an Xbox sale to mark it. Microsoft is offering discounts on Xbox 360 games to celebrate May 4. From my desk here in Australia the sale is a bit light on content – two Lego games, plus The Force Unleashed and its DLC packs. Your mileage may […]

  • Here’s hoping this tease means we see Mass Effect at E3 2015

    Mass Effect boss Mike Gamble has shared a teaser image, which we’re more than happy to draw speculative conclusions from. The new Mass Effect game in the works at BioWare Edmonton is a mysterious beast. Judging by how long it’s been in development, it feels like we’re about due for a proper reveal, to clear […]

  • Watch almost a whole hour of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is almost here. Are you ready for old-school shooter action? Wolfenstein: The Old Blood publisher Bethesda livestreamed almost an hour of the Machine Games shooter recently, and has now uploaded the archive to YouTube. Check it out below: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood launches digitally on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on […]

  • Splatoon lacks voice chat to promote a positive online experience

    Nintendo’s multiplayer game Splatoon will not contain a voice chat option in order to “focus on the positive aspects” of online gaming. Speaking in the latest issue of Edge magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Splatoon co-director Yusuke Amano said personal experience with negativity in online voice chat was one of the main reasons for excluding the feature. […]

  • D4 on PC: differences from Xbox One version, system specs announced

    D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Season 1 is coming to PC, and Access Games has provided a list of features different from the Xbox One version. We’ve pulled most of the changes off the game’s website and posted them below, along with the PC specs. D4 on PC Kinect gesture input controls replaced with […]

  • The Megalodon returns to Battlefield 4 with the latest CTE patch

    The Megalodon Easter Egg in Battlefield 4 may have been removed earlier this year from Naval Strike, but it has since resurfaced on the CTE with the latest patch. I’d make a Jaws reference, but it’s been done to death. The shark is shown in the video on the Paracel Storm map which was where […]

  • Survival horror game Kodoku has a new work-in-progress trailer

    Kodoku, the survival horror title from Carnivore Studio, has a new work-in-progress video available, showing you how the game is coming along. Announced for PlayStation 4 and Vita back in 2013, the game is slated for release sometime this year, and tasks the player with avoiding mythical Japanese ghosts using only magic and stealth. Thanks, […]

  • Current HoloLens prototype has noticeably “tighter” FoV compared to January build

    Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens is still very much in the prototype stage, according to various reports out of the Build Conference. Microsoft hasn’t discussed technical specs with the press yet as nothing is set in stone, but during a hands-on at Build, Ars Technica noticed the prototypes had a “x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac […]