Rock Band Returns This Year on PS4 and Xbox One

By Keza MacDonald on at

After months of hints, Harmonix has just confirmed that the Rock Band series will be returning on current-gen consoles this year.

Here's the vital information:

  • It will be on PS4 and Xbox One
  • Harmonix intends it to be fully backwards-compatible with ALL plastic instruments you may have already bought back in the mid-late '00s, and is working with Microsoft and Sony to make this a reality
  • All the DLC you bought for last-gen versions of Rock Band will be carried over (again, depending on the platform holders' co-operation)
  • There will be new instruments to buy if you want to buy them, and people who pre-order them will get exclusive colours
  • The new controllers will be largely similar in size and shape to the old ones, as Harmonix still has a relationship with Fender, but they will be identical in functionality: no new bells and whistles
  • It's no longer being published by EA – instead, Harmonix is partnering with Mad Catz both to manufacture the new instruments and to distribute the boxed game
  • Rock Band 4 is intended to be a platform that lasts for years rather than the first step in another sequence of yearly releases. It will be continuously updated with new songs, modes, and anything else the community wants
  • It will be out during summer this year (we'll learn more in summer)


Harmonix has been working on Rock Band 4 since last year, when one of the studio's small prototyping teams came up with something new that ended up reminding the whole studio how fun the core Rock Band experience was. When Rock Band 3 released, Harmonix was still owned by Viacom – now as an independent studio, the situation is very different for the developer.

"The landscape has changed a lot with respect to what a developer can do. It’s the logistical stuff – title updates are easier than they were in the last generation," says product manager Daniel Sussman. "We feel very strongly that making Rock Band 4 should be fun for us, and we had to think a lot about what’s the game we would want to work on and that we would want to play. And where we arrived is that we want to build on and evolve the Rock Band experience that people love.

"There’s a lot of platform-level work that frankly is our priority right now... This is the way that a lot of people interact with music and get to know new music, and we're thinking about elements of the experience that feed into that – the DLC library, the simulation at its core. Rock Band is so much about guitar, drums, bass and vocals and that social play experience."

Harmonix isn't ready to show the game yet, Sussman says, but he insists it's not just a straight port of the older-gen console versions. "On the one hand we don’t want to tinker with a core mechanic that has been very successful, on the other hand we want to push the envelope with regards to what people expect. We have a lot of really cool things up our sleeves, things that we’re excited to show in the E3 timeframe."

This news comes shortly after we heard from two sources that a new Guitar Hero game will also be announced imminently.