It's back: Rock Band 4 will hit shelves in 2015

Harmonix has announced it will release Rock Band 4 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sometime this year.

Harmonix Music Systems
Still shot from Rock Band DLC Preview: Avenged Sevenfold, Arctic Monkeys, and Foo Fighters.

After a five-year hiatus from its popular series, Harmonix has unveiled a new version of its once wildly popular music game, Rock Band. This fourth installment in the series will hit shelves sometime this year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

As Daniel Sussman, Rock Band 4’s lead developer, spoke to reporter after reporter after reporter on the nostalgic game and its plastic instruments, his message was clear: loyal consumers come first.

“Well, there's an element of Rock Band as a platform, the investment people have made in Rock Band and in their connection to Rock Band, regardless of whatever we're doing that's new,” Mr. Sussman, said in an interview with The Verge. “There's a lot of new stuff, but we really want to make sure we're being respectful of the financial investment people have made.”

Rather than plan out Rock Band 5, 6, and 7, Harmonix plans to turn Rock Band 4 into an ever-renewing platform. The upcoming game will get updates for new features and songs, which will save customers from needing to repurchase software or devices over and over again.

Though Harmonix enlisted Mad Catz to develop a new guitar, drum set, and microphone, which will be similar to the old models, Sussman said the company is working hard to make sure that those who saved their plastic instruments will be able to use those models with the new version. Sussman went on to tell The Verge that the company is not interested in up-selling new controllers by allowing those with the latest hardware to get a “better score than the old stuff.”

"We are actively engaged with Sony and Microsoft to support PS3 controllers on the PS4 and Xbox 360 controllers on the Xbox One," Sussman told GameSpot. "It's tough because a lot of the implementation is out of our control. You're dealing with radio chips and technology that fundamentally changed between one console and the next. There is some policy we need to work through as well as some nifty engineering we have to work through, which we are."

The Rock Band 4 crew is also working to make sure previously purchased songs will transfer to the new version.

“There are a lot of people that have bought lots of songs already, and to those folks, we want to make sure your library of songs on the PS3 will carry forward to the PS4 and same on the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One,” Sussman says, but made sure to highlight that this was not a cross-platform deal. “I wouldn't put the stake through that, but that's the one that would take a lot of support from Microsoft and Sony, and frankly that's a political rat's nest. I don't see it.”

Rock Band 4 will also be losing a few features, as Sussman told Wired. The “Pro” guitar mode for advanced players, which allowed a user to plug in real instruments and play along, is out, as well as the keyboard controller released with Rock Band 3.

“The sprawl that was Rock Band 3 actually splintered the audience in a lot of ways,” Sussman told Wired. “One of the words we’re using to describe our approach [for] Rock Band 4 is ‘focus’.... We’re very much dialed on guitar, drum, bass, vocals.”

Sussman went on to tell The Verge, “This is not a game that we want to jam down anyone's throat; we want to make sure that there is a receptive audience, that people are excited to come back to this thing and to see what we're doing.”

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