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A Second Broken Rock Band Christmas December 6, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Rock Band 2 released one year after the release of the first Rock Band game.  The first being an enormous success and a financial gold mine for the developers and publisher, a second one was pretty much guaranteed and would provide all new features that the fans had been clamoring for.  The problems I had with the first game’s release forgiven, I planned to buy the new game’s Special Edition with all the new improved instruments that came along with it, including the new wireless drum set, which had become my preferred instrument.  After that next Christmas, I was able to get the money together to buy the new package, but remembering the trouble I had with the Rock Band, I decided to put a two-year warranty on the new game, figuring that in the off-chance I would have a problem with it, it would be faster just to return it to the store for a replacement than to have to send it back to the manufacturer like I had to with the last game.

The new wireless drum set I got with the Special Edition was completely out of whack and would randomly go through periods where it would no longer properly register hits since the moment I first started to use it.  How bad was it?  I could play through an entire song and register a very high accuracy where I could hit upwards of 99% but still only 4-star the song.  It would incorrectly blow multipliers without me even registering a single tap on the drum pads, blowing my score and the score of the entire group if I was playing with friends.

After a week of playing, I could no longer stand it.  I had a broken drum set, but unlike the last year, where the developers had already acknowledged that they had a problem with some of the guitars that shipped out, the game’s publishers and developers were not owning up to anything wrong with the new game.  I tried to get the publishers to offer me the chance to replace it, but there was no program in place for a free return like there had been with those broken guitars last year.  If I wanted a new drum set I was going to have to pay to ship it back to them to have them look it over and fix it.  Boy was it a good thing I had bought the game at a store that offered me an extended warranty on the item, I was going to use it.

I brought the broken drum set back to Best Buy with all my warranty information along with it.  I told the clerks what was wrong with the drum set and that the rest of the instruments seemed to be fine.  They took my warranty and told me they would be happy to replace the drum set, but wanted me to test any new sets to make sure I didn’t get another defective one.

They set me up at one of the Rock Band 2 demo stations and had me set up any of the drum sets I wanted to test on it.  I could play a song or two and see how it reacted while they watched.  This was actually kind of fun since they were set up on a pretty big screen with a sound system and I had no problem syncing Xbox controllers to a system.

For what felt like an hour me and some of the Best Buy clerks tore open brand new copies of Rock Band 2 only to find that their drum sets were also indeed completely defective.  I have no idea what was causing all these wireless drum sets to go bad, maybe it had something to do with how the product was packaged, but these were brand new out of the box drum sets and they were completely useless.  It was only after we opened up the third copy of the game we found a drum set that worked perfectly.  They replaced my broken drum hardware and the foot pedal just to be sure that everything worked, and told me they were sending the broken components (as well as all of the other new copies they found to be defective) back to the manufacturer.

I felt bad that we had to crack open so many copies of the game to find me just one working drum set but the store managers assured me they had no problem at all with it, because my warranty was valid and they were fine with knowing now that their merchandise was defective.  It saved them from selling it to what would become angry customers.

I posted an abridged version of this story on the Rock Band official forums after it reached its conclusion, with the hope that it would help anyone having similar problems with the drum set.  I was told by some of the people on the forum that the known failure rate for those drums were 66% at the time.  Why nobody owned up to what was obviously a major issue was never explained.  A full copy of Rock Band 2 cost quite a large amount, and with the amount of money paid you’d expect to have a working product or at the very least a guarantee along with it.  That just didn’t happen.

After this happening to me twice I was pretty much done with the music genre in general.  I stopped buying games bundled with new peripherals (my room was already pretty full with them as it was) and in some cases I stopped buying new music games in general.  After that year the market for it became far too over saturated and it was clear it bought too much into its own success.  When the market was new and there wasn’t a lot of competition, it was pretty easy to get into, by the end of its lifespan, it had become a nightmare of yearly expensive releases, new rebranded peripherals that offered little improvement than aesthetics over the previous one, and never ending DLC.  My wallet just screamed uncle and I had to call a stop to it.