How do you take a highly successful multiplayer video game and turn it into a mobile game? The folks at Harmonix figured it out. Rock Band, which has sold over 4 million copies and made upwards of $600 million in revenue, has turned it into one of the top rated and downloaded games in the App Store. Now they’re trying to do it again with Rock Band Reloaded, an updated version of the game which includes all-new songs and several new features.
“Reloaded is basically a new game,” Rock Band Reloaded producer Olivier Proulx explained. “We reviewed all the app store feedback, and people made interesting suggestions.”
“We’re a little biased of course, but I think we have the highest production value of all the apps in the app store,” product manager Autumn Brown added. “We view Rock Band as a great music experience, it’s a social game. You can really do that with these new devices.”
Converting the functionalities of a large video game with many different controllers into a pocket-sized mechanism was not an easy task, but Brown admits they had an advantage in the fact that they could use the brand name of the product. People were already familiar with the title, so getting licensed songs was quite easy since all of the music used also appears in the console version of Rock Band. Besides horizontal game play and full 3D graphics in the mobile game, the vocal function that had been turned into a silent beat driven mode in the first mobile game could actually be used. Gameplay with friends with iPads and iPhones is also encouraged. “We’ve had a lot of interesting sessions I was recommended not to be the singer,” Proulx said laughing.
One of the biggest challenges was taking the game and making it fit the vast options that are afforded to people on the iPad. Proulx added that EA, the game’s publisher, really pushed developers to adapt the game for the platform. Whereas on the console version you had actual drums and a plastic guitar to jam on, here you only had your mobile device and your imagination. The iPad’s vast surface gave them more room to play with so they were able to create a more realistic version on this game, Proulx said adding that he feels like playing the drums on iPad is almost like hitting a bongo. “It’s really amazing how it stirs up competitiveness in other people,” Proulx said.
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