£s of Flesh

[10 April 2008]

By Arun Subramanian

It’s bad enough that European gamers have to wait longer than gamers in the States for consoles and games.  But the recent Rock Band pricing announcement for Europe really sticks it in and breaks it off.  In the UK, the cost for the whole thing will be roughly $350 in American dollars, and the rest of the continent has to pay around $375 American.  While the VAT tax is being used, at least partially, to defend the price hike, that tax is around 17.5%, which doesn’t really translate to doubling the price.

One of the most ridiculous defenses comes directly from Rob Kay, director of design at Harmonix.  In an interview with videogamer.com, he said: “This is a different experience. You cannot have a multi-player, multi-peripheral game be in the same price point as a regular game. What it delivers is so much bigger and so much better. We understand that people are going to feel a little bit aggrieved about it but we hope that playing the game will override that feeling.”  I’m having trouble understanding how this “different experience” is different from the “different experience” that was released in the US last year for half the price.

I can’t justify spending the price of a console for a game, particularly one where the high price comes from peripherals.  Steel Batallion, anyone?  You almost had to buy the second game in that series to justify having blown $100 on the first one.  I guess it remains to be seen if the money I’ve spent on the Rock Band peripherals will be a decent investment.  Harmonix is starting to have a history of not supporting interoperability between the peripherals it produces and the various games for which they probably should work.  I had trouble deciding to whether to purchase Rock Band, even living in the States.  If I lived in Europe, I’d almost certainly just have to play at a rich friend’s house.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/s-of-flesh/