- Rock Band 2 is an expansion, not a reinvention.
- In the band world tour... you'll have more variables to play with. You can hire staff – promoters, your mom – to support your band or find new gigs. A risk and reward system will complicate the business end: hire a sleezy accountant and you may clear more money from a successful gig, or you may get robbed if you underperform.
- Harmonix has skipped user-generated content for the forseeable future
None of that is encouraging -- particularly the middle part, which reminds me of all of those bloated features that found their way into the Madden games, like picking your custom player's parents, putting him through college, making him do squats, and helping him to score in double-digits on the Wonderlic.
I should say that after airing all my concerns about Rock Band 2 on Monday, I've come around somewhat. The simplest thing I didn't consider is the usefulness of the disc-only version this time around. Rock Band owners won't have to splurge to get almost all of the benefits of the new version, as they did last year. If you consider that the disc will house over 80 songs, according to Chris's article, then you're saving a bundle on song costs alone -- if, that is, you would have chosen to download all of those tracks a la carte. That's a big "if."
While I still think it's something of a kiss-off to people who bought Rock Band last year that newer, better peripherals will be available in September, ultimately it's not a dealbreaker. Even so, I still think that with the DLC spigot spewing cash into Harmonix's coffers, they would have been better off releasing these iterative improvements as updates to the original, while they toiled away on the real sequel.
One more thing about that lack of user-generated content. I'm sure that whatever Harmonix has up their sleeve regarding this "indie initiative" is going to be a positive feature. But Chris's article seems to suggest -- and Ryan Stewart's Phlog post concurs -- that the coming wave of mostly crappy Guitar Hero IV user-generated tracks is a bad thing.
Sure, most of it will be crap. That's to be expected. The sheer volume of it will ensure that, in absolute terms, much of it will also be good -- some of it surprisingly so. The best will rise to the top, just as happens on sites like YouTube, thanks to community involvement. This is a good thing. And it goes further toward democratizing music than does an exclusionary model by which, if you're some kid dicking around in his room instead of playing in a "real" band, no one thinks you could possibly create something worthwhile.