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Released back in October 2009, Rock Band iOS was co-developed by EA Montreal and Harmonix, with publishing handled by Electronic Arts and MTV Games. Two years later, parent-company Viacom would sell-off Harmonix, and MTV Games would cease to exist. Harmonix has since continued on as an independent developer, finding massive success in Dance Central, but a supremely weird pop-up started presenting itself in Rock Band iOS yesterday. A pop-up which appears to claim the game has an expiration date.
"On May 31, Rock Band will no longer be playable on your device," the alert reads. "Thanks for rocking out with us!"
An awfully "hip" way of informing players a game which cost $5 -- not to mention in-app purchases -- will drop dead in a few weeks. The pop-up's wording doesn't seem to imply Rock Band will merely disappear from the App Store for future purchase; "no longer be playable" makes it sound like the game will stop functioning altogether. According to a forum post from Harmonix manager of community development Aaron Trites, it sounds like the company wasn't even aware of the issue.
"This is the first I'm hearing of this. EA Mobile is almost 100% responsible for maintaining the app as far as I'm aware, but I'll ask around to see if I can get some additional info," said Trites. "No clue as to the specifics, but my guess is that it has something to do with the MTV Games and EA logos that pop up when you load it. Since we are no longer partnered with them, I have no idea how that has affected projects like [Rock Band] on iOS."
So, the Rock Band iOS may be destroyed because of old logos on loading screens? Trites mentioned the hypothesis was "guesswork," and as of this writing, assumptions are all that are available. Electronic Arts announced layoffs at EA Montreal -- the game's developer -- last week, and it's plausible the company can't commit to supporting the app. However, this still doesn't explain how EA can completely disable an iOS title. A game-killing update? The whole thing is strange.
Meanwhile, Rock Band is still available for $5 on the App Store, without any mention of its apparent demise in the description. If the game really does end up worthless, unaware buyers could find a nasty surprise after loading the app. Rock Band Reloaded, a 2010 follow-up, has no such pop-up at this time.
We've reached out to Electronic Arts for comment, but have not yet received a reply. We'll update you as we receive more information.
EA returned our request for comment, and it sounds like Rock Band iOS isn't going anywhere.
“Rock Band for iOS will remain live -- the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error. We apologize for the confusion this caused. We're working to clarify the issue that caused the error and will share additional information as soon as possible.”
Well, that's pleasant news. But it's still an awfully bizarre "error".