Word came out over the weekend that Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos, in a lengthy OXM interview, finally confirmed the gaming community’s fears about Rock Band on Xbox 360 — that the Special Edition bundle would not have a wireless guitar, but a wired one. Of course a wireless version of the Rock Band guitar does exist, but it will only be available as a seperate purchase for Xbox 360 owners. The salt in the wound comes from the news that the PLAYSTATION 3 version of the Special Edition would indeed bundle in a wireless guitar.
The reason? Joystiq quotes Rigopulos as saying, “The cost of wireless technology on the Microsoft side is higher and to be able to offer those bundles at a price point that would be reasonable for consumers it was necessary … on the 360 side we are also bundling a hub.”
The reason behind the wired guitar in the bundle is rather unfortunate. I believe this is one of the few times that Microsoft should have worked to ensure parity between the bundles across the different platforms at all costs. This is one of those times where the folks in charge of these third-party relationships and third-party accessory licensing should have been thinking about the best interests of the brand and the platform as a whole. It seems that other factors were more key — most likely not setting the precedent of reducing or subsidizing the cost of the technology for accessory makers.
I can see that being an important factor, among several others, all extremely valid. However, it’s just a shame that it provides the PLAYSTATION 3 bundle of Rock Band a competitive advantage when Microsoft should be doing everything in their power to slam the door on one of their competitors. And that is a strategy that I feel remains valid despite Microsoft’s current lead in the global marketplace versus Sony.