VideoGamer.com: In terms of Rock Band’s future, clearly you’ve got a great format, but as a developer it must be tricky to know where you go with it.
JR: Yeah. Well, we’ve been doing it for a long time, right? I’m coming up on 10 years at Harmonix, and from the beginning I think we’ve always been trying to trying to push the idea of getting people in touch with their musical side. So I think we’re just going to come up with new ways to explore that.
VideoGamer.com: How do you view the relationship between DLC, Track Packs and stand-alone games such as this? What role do they each play?
JR: I like the whole idea of Rock Band as its own platform. You can see up there [gestures to an enormous poster listing musicians] we have, like, 700 bands. Something like this had always been a dream of ours at Harmonix, a billion songs and you get to choose what you really want to hear. And with Beatles Rock Band… these guys are arguably the most important band ever. If anyone deserves their own game, it’s these guys. There’s such a rich history behind the band that it was a really compelling story to tell, both musically and visually. Their story is the stuff of great games, you know? But it’ll be interesting to see… I’m not really sure what’s next in terms of DLC or track packs, but for The Beatles they deserved their own thing.
VideoGamer.com: What I was getting at was… Well, if you look at the music industry, everyone is migrating away from the idea of physical media, towards mp3s. Harmonix seems very dedicated to its DLC content, but could you foresee a point in the future where the platform is entirely separate from the songs? Where it’s just a constant stream of DLC, rather than new games coming out every year?
JR: I don’t know. All this stuff is splintering off in lots of really interesting directions. I think you could foresee a future where maybe you don’t even have a console. Your instrument can have all these songs and you just plug it into your TV. I’m sure it’s going to start to move in weird ways that no-one’s even thought of yet. We’re obviously focused on the consoles, but outside of Harmonix there are people doing interesting stuff in the mobile space. It’s going to be interesting when it all splinters apart and then comes back together in some form we’ve not even thought of yet.
VideoGamer.com: Do you think Rock Band could eventually evolve into something like iTunes?
JR: It’s pretty close now, right? I think Rock Band has the most DLC of any console game ever made, so I think that model [iTunes] was certainly an inspiration for the game. Also, we’re going to have DLC for The Beatles, which is really cool. I think the other component you have to think about is that it’s pretty easy to download a song. It’s a certain file size, and that has all the note data and stuff. But then you need the visuals to match up with, the full environments and all that, and right now that stuff fits on a DVD or a Blu-ray or whatever. But if we get better Internet or whatever… or if it gets easier to create these beautiful graphics… With The Beatles Game, everything was carefully crafted to be historically accurate without being periphery. We were trying to capture the spirit of the guys and time, and they [The Beatles] were really encouraging us to do something new. They didn’t want us to go back and re-hash old Beatles stuff. So that was a daunting challenge for us. We were put in this position where the entire world has heard these songs before and they’re all really dear to people’s hearts. When you hear Here Comes the Sun you immediately have a picture in your head, or a feeling that you get when you hear that song. And so we had to create these visuals that were appropriate, and it was so gratifying to go through this process and have them say, “Yeah, that looks good.”
The Beatles: Rock Band will be released on PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 on September 9.