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Harmonix losing some respect points with Rock Band 3

Harmonix’s flagship brand, Rock Band 3, released yesterday. For fans of the music / rhythm game, and its many iterations, this game is the culmination of years of work and thousands (over 2,000 now) of songs. Yes, Rock Band 3 introduces new modes,  new instruments, a refined experience, and a partridge in a pear tree. One of the greatest features of Harmonix’s games is how much they seem to go to bat for the consumer by trying to provide ways to make their Rock Band experience that much more enjoyable. One of the ways Harmonix has done this is allowing song imports: Rock Band 1 imported 55 of 58 songs into Rock Band 2 for a $5 fee; Lego Rock Band imported all songs into Rock Band 2 for a $10 fee; any of the track packs, or the AC/DC pack imported into Rock Band for no extra fee. The only drawback was The Beatles Rock Band was not importable into other games, considering the licensing it took to get the Beatles into Rock Band in the first place, I don’t begrudge Harmonix for that at all.

What I am begrudging Harmonix is the fact they are charging $10 to import Rock Band 2 songs into Rock Band 3. They charged $10 to import Lego Rock Band, but they initially listed the game at $49.99 retail, which is $10 off the standard price for PS3 and Xbox games. I completely understand why they did this and appreciate them taking their consumers opinions into consideration when setting the prices. But Rock Band 3 is going to charge $10 to import Rock Band 2 songs? Is Rock Band 3 going to be $10 cheaper than typical new releases? I doubt it.

The reason Harmonix is losing respect points is because their reasoning behind charging $10 to export RB2 is the exact same reasoning behind charging $5 to export RB1 songs 2 years ago. Harmonix’s logic in 2008: We licensed songs on Rock Band for 1 game, not the Rock Band ‘platform’, by paying $5 for the export tool, we’re relicensing these songs for all Rock Band releases.

For the love of all that is unholy, why didn’t Harmonix license Rock Band 2’s songs for the same ‘platform’. If they had, we wouldn’t have to pay a $10 re-licensing fee. If they did license RB2 songs for the ‘platform’ then they are simply lying to us to shell out our money to import almost all of our songs in a single place (which is more convenient than you may think). So either someone at the Harmonix Licensing Department is really stupid or really greedy.

I’m sort of wondering how much it will cost us to relicense Rock Band 3’s song list when Rock Band 4 comes out in late 2012, $15? $20?