Red Octane Co-founder: Little Motivation to Make "Problematic" Rock Band Controllers Compatible

By Nick Breckon, Dec 07, 2007 3:51am PST In the wake of Harmonix's release of Rock Band--a game that accepts most guitar controllers--Guitar Hero III peripheral developer Red Octane has come under fire for failing to similarly support its competitor's guitars.

Now Red Octane is firing back, pointing to quality issues with Rock Band guitars as one reason why they aren't rushing to patch in support for Harmonix's controllers.

"I don't think we're too interested in having their guitars work on our game, because they're having a lot of issues with their guitars," said Red Octane co-founder and VP Charles Huang to 1UP.

Harmonix recently admitted to shipping a batch of faulty guitars with its launch-day Rock Band bundles. However, complaints of controller quality were also levied against Red Octane following the release of its Guitar Hero III controllers.

"From our standpoint, to be quite honest, if you know a competitor's product has issues, there's not a whole lot of motivation to make these problematic controllers work with your game," added Huang. "Why would you want to cause yourself the headache?"

While Harmonix has taken the high road in the guitar-simulation war by touting Rock Band's near-universal compatibility--which may be further increased by a rumored patch to the PS3 version--Huang categorically rejects his competitor's claim that the Rock Band controllers were developed to adhere to any open standard of music peripherals.

"There is no such thing as an open standard on PS3 for guitar controllers," continued Huang. "That's just a crock. Open standard is something like USB or 802.11 [a wireless protocol]. They publish the spec and if you want to build a USB anything, you follow these specs. I defy anybody to show me, before our games were released, to show a published spec of how to build a guitar controller on PS3."

Huang claims that his company simply did not have the chance to test Rock Band peripherals on Guitar Hero III ahead of its release. However, while stating that he understands compatibility confusion amongst consumers is an issue, Huang admits that his company is focused on more pressing goals.

"Long term, you can't go against what the consumer wants," said Huang. "Before people at Harmonix or Neversoft start throwing a lot of resources into cross compatibility, we're probably just focused on this Christmas, getting the other issues resolved. Quite honestly, that is our number one complaint in customer service: when can I buy a standalone guitar?"

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  • I think someone needs to teach this guy some basic PR. Saying that you don't want to listen to the customer is just bad. I can understand Rock Band controller compatibility not being a high priority, but when they don't have the Les Paul as a standalone product, they should be doing something. Also, they should make a good faith effort to the people who want to buy both games, but don't feel like dropping money for bundles of both games.

    I understand the complaints, but blaming it on the consumer not knowing how difficult it might be, is not the correct response. The consumer will vote with their money and go buy the other product if they are continued to be spoken to like that.