When a new “Guitar Hero” game was announced earlier this week, we told you to throw out your old instruments. After all, none of them will work with “Guitar Hero Live,” the game arriving this fall on a mess of game platforms.
But not so fast!
Like “Guitar Hero,” the “Rock Band” franchise returns this fall. Unlike “Guitar Hero,” though, “Rock Band 4” will support your old plastic guitar controllers. Not just the ones you got with previous “Rock Band” games, but also that of the competition.
“We’re planning to support everything that we can: That includes all of the old ‘Rock Band’ controllers, and all the old ‘Guitar Hero’ controllers,” project director Daniel Sussman told us in an interview Thursday afternoon.
And that makes sense. The developers of the “Rock Band” franchise, Harmonix Music Systems, are also the developers behind the first two “Guitar Hero” games. The two franchises share a lot of DNA: Both aim to create a guitar-centric karaoke experience, and they both deliver it in a similar way.
In “Guitar Hero Live,” publisher Activision is intentionally breaking away from the past. The new guitar controller is emblematic of this shift — rather than use the traditional five-button setup (below, right), “Guitar Hero Live” uses a new controller with a six-button setup (below, left; three buttons on top, three below).
What that means for people buying the $US100 “Guitar Hero” game this fall is that none of their old plastic guitar controllers work with the new game. That’s a serious bummer for folks who’ve been holding out for a return to the franchise since it was paused back in 2011.
Harmonix apparently agrees — here’s Sussman on the subject:
Our position is really all about respect for our consumers and for the money that they have spent to get into the game space in the first place. They spend a fortune on games: on consoles, on hardware, and we’re sensitive to that. We play those games too. We buy all the same stuff. A world where you need to have three different guitars and two drum sets and all this stuff is…we don’t want to support that world.
Whether the new, reconfigured “Guitar Hero Live” controller will work in “Rock Band 4” is another question altogether. Sussman believes it’s possible, but he’s just as in the dark as we are.
“I don’t see anything on it that makes me think that we couldn’t figure out a way to support it,” he says. “And yet I won’t know for sure until we get one in the office.”
Both “Guitar Hero Live” and “Rock Band 4” launch this fall.