I might owe Harmonix an apology

A couple of weeks back I wrote a rant against Harmonix (Harmonix can kiss my behind) after I learned that Rock Band 2 was going to be a timed exclusive for the XBox 360 (and I happened to get it for the PS3 due to my love/hate relationship with the 360).

Well after doing some snooping around, I now get the feeling that Microsoft is just doing a spin job on this timed exclusive stuff. I think Harmonix is just taking a little bit longer to finish the PS3 version, which is a totally different thing from accepting a boatload of money from Microsoft in order to shaft PS3 owners.

I have a few reasons for this change of heart. First, if you look at release dates on Gamestop and Amazon (and I know these aren’t always, or even often, reliable), they have the XBox 360 version, game only, with a launch date of September 14th and the bundles (ie with instruments) for both PS3 & XBox360, as well as the PS3 game only, listed for October 19th.

Second, Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb was on Leo Laporte’s “This Week in Tech” podcast talking about E3. During the conversation Hryb mentioned that Rock Band 2 was a limited time XBox 360 Exclusive and when Laporte asked him how long it was exclusive for, Hryb claimed he didn’t know.

So first of all, if Microsoft had purchased a “Timed Exclusive” window from Harmonix, I suspect Hryb would know exactly how long that exclusive was for (though I’ll grant you he might not have wanted to share that knowledge). Second, it seems almost silly to buy exclusivity for only a month (assuming the Amazon and Gamestop dates are accurate). And lastly, if it was a business deal you’d expect both the stand-alone game and the bundle to be exclusive, not just the game.

So now my suspicion is that Harmonix had the 360 version finished earlier and just figured they might as well ship it asap rather than wait for the instruments and the PS3 version to be completed. And when Microsoft learned about this, they started using it as a “timed exclusive” marketing point, with no money changing hands.