I was just about finished writing up how sad indeed it was that a great game and one of the first semi-freemium business models (or at least with in-app add-ons) was coming to a close. EA, makers of Rock Band for iOS, had listed the game on their ‘end of support’ web site as going dark at the end of May. This naturally caused quite an uproar amongst gamers, even though most have moved onto the sequel, Rock Band Reloaded.
But today there is word pretty much everywhere that EA is saying that the cancellation is ‘an error’. Here is the public quote as noted on TouchArcade:
“Rock Band for iOS will remain live – the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error.”
“We apologize for the confusion this caused. We’re working to clarify the issue that caused the error and will share additional information as soon as possible.”
Note that what they DON’T say is that the game isn’t being cancelled. In fact, since the game is listed on their support page – something they use to communicate changes across all games on all platforms – we can assume it was an accurate listing.
But what is possibly a mistake is the action intended – did EA actually plan to make the totally unplayable, or just kill off online support. That is what TheVerge opined should happen when the original news broke:
At the very least you would think that EA would be able to just leave the original Rock Band alone, so those who bought it and paid for IAP songs can continue to at least use it even if future updates aren’t in the cards. Perhaps there’s a reason for this, like a licensing issue with the music, but at any rate if you’re still a fan of the first Rock Band on iOS you’ll have until May 31st to continue enjoying it.
The question this raises is: exactly WHO owns the game on your smartphone? We KNOW that in terms of intellectual property the owner is the publisher; in terms of the game itself you are only gaining a license from the publisher. So in that regard the game is EA’s to do with as they please, which is true of every game released going back to Wizardry that I had on the Apple ][+ 32 years ago.
Yet through the years I have watched publishers come and go, online services come and go … yet I can play just about any game I ever bought (hardware support is a much bigger issue!). With the exception of games that are purely online-only without even an offline ‘bot mode’, I cannot think of a single example EVER where the cancellation of support for multiplayer meant an inability to play single-player offline.
And honestly I think that is the reason for the ‘error’ – there was an intention to cancel online support for Rock Band but not terminate the ability to play at all. I know this is EA – winners of the ‘Worst Company in America’ recently – but I still think they are smart enough to realize that such a move would generate tremendous bad press, while simply cancelling online support would have the desired effect of making dedicated players move to the newer Rock Band Reloaded.
What do you think?