Rock Band...oh dear

I got my copy of Rock Band for the PS3 on Wednesday, and I had just a few hours to bang on it before packing for my Thanksgiving trip.

The game, in theory, is fantastic. It comes with a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone, and you can play one of the four (the guitar can be used to play lead guitar or bass). I started with the guitar, and for about fifteen minutes, all was good. And then my guitar just stopped working. It seemed as if the keypad was frozen on the up direction. I tried all sorts of things to get it to work again, to no avail. I jumped online immediately and ordered a replacement guitar via the warranty site.

Now come reports that lots of people are running into issues with their Rock Band hardware. The "one of my instruments is broken" thread at the Rock Band tech support forum is long and growing. The problem most people are experiencing is problems with the down strum on the guitar. I didn't even get to play long enough to encounter that issue.

Now, there's a chance that this is just selection bias, that reading a thread specifically opened for hardware problems will only scare you. But to see so many threads on the web about hardware issues is really suspicious.

What could have been a triumphant launch could quickly turn into a disaster for Harmonix. Let's hope there's a recall on the horizon, because otherwise there could be a revolt. I'd love to be able to recommend Rock Band; the drum set still works for me, ditto the microphone, and the music selection is great. It's just a great concept for a game. But the shockingly poor QA on the guitar means I can't recommend the game for anyone until the hardware issues are addressed.

Harmonix needs to address this issue. They can't sweep something like this under the rug in the age of the Internet, or a promising franchise will be doomed from the start. Another question: all these glowing reviews I read of Rock Band, yet not a single reviewer noticed this issue with their review copies?