Rock Band developer Harmonix has announced a continuation of its agreement with Fender. The arrangement allows Fender brand guitars, basses, amps, and other musical instrument equipment to appear in Rock Band games. It also includes Fender subsidiaries, such as Gretsch and Jackson.
The current guitar bundle for Rock Band 4 comes with a physical, wireless Fender stratocaster controller. Harmonix and Fender have been together since the beginning, and they won’t be breaking up anytime soon, as the deal extends into 2027.
Harmonix CEO Steve Janiak explains the history, significance, and importance of the Fender brand as part of the Rock Band gaming experience.
“Rock Band is all about living out your rock n’ roll fantasies, on stage, under the lights, in front of a crowd… For decades, Fender’s iconic designs and signature sound have made them the guitar and amp of choice for many of rock’s greatest stars. Naturally Fender has also been the guitar of choice for many of Rock Band’s aspiring rock stars dating back to the series’ introduction in 2007. I’m thrilled that they’ll continue to be a part of Rock Band well into our next decade.”
The Fender-inspired guitar controller included as part of the Rock Band 4 guitar bundle, or the “Band-in-a-Box” bundle, boasts a strat design for good reason. The controller has been modeled after stratocaster since the guitar model is iconic and preferred by many. Rock Band Audio Director Eric Brosius shares that as a musician, he is personally drawn to both the sound and design of Fender guitars.
“I don’t know if it’s the twang of the single coils pickups (which I prefer over humbuckers), or the volume control right there at your fingertips, or the effortless playability, but I’m most at home with a Fender,” Brosius details on the official Rock Band blog.
Brosius is not alone. The stratocaster guitar has been preferred by many rock legends, and has been used throughout history to achieve musical perfection on a number of well-known songs. The director highlights some of the most notable examples in his blog post, including “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix, “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, and “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
“It’s probably no coincidence that many of my personal guitar heroes primarily play Fenders, especially Stratocasters: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmore, Richie Blackmore (I was a huge Deep Purple fan in high-school), and especially my all-time favorite guitarist: Jeff Beck. All these players have very unique, recognizable guitar sounds and styles that come from, of course, their own amazing abilities, but also through their guitars. Their Strats are flexible enough to let each player’s sound come through. Jeff Beck is the master at making his Strat sing, bellow, cry, sting, scream, moan, crush, whatever… mainly just with his hands and his Strat.”
When it comes to flexibility, Rock Band 4 players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will soon be able to get a little bit more out of the game as well. Harmonix has announced that synchronous online multiplayer is coming to Rock Band 4 via an expansion pack expected to launch by Holiday, 2016. Additional expansion pack details, including pricing and specific multiplayer modes, have yet to be announced. But, it’s fairly safe to say that if you can’t get the band together in your garage or living room, with the expansion you will soon have the option to rock out together online.
Also due out before the end of the year is Rock Band VR, an exclusive virtual reality gaming experience for Oculus Rift. The original, “made-for-VR” game has been created by Harmonix in partnership with Oculus. More details about the first Rock Band 4 expansion pack and Rock Band VR are expected to be revealed at E3 2016.
[Image via Harmonix]