By Eli Green
August 5, 2008 - 14:00
I received a call from a representative from Electronic Arts' Rock Band support team later in the second last week of July. He was calling to address the issues I brought up in an article the week before on the lack of support for Canadians who need replacements for their Rock Band wireless guitars. To begin, let's start with the good news. The policy that I mentioned, which does not allow Canadian owners of defective Rock Band wireless guitars to get a replacement actually only applies to the Rock Band wireless guitars for Xbox 360, not Rock Band wireless guitar for Playstation 2, Playstation 3 or Wii. If you live in Canada and need a replacement for your Rock Band wireless guitar for any of those systems, it's not a problem.
The representative answered that question as well, telling me that if the store did not allow the player to return their wireless guitar, simply because it was past the return policy date, Rock Band support would call and have the store authorize the replacement for the player. Either way, the warranty for all Rock Band hardware has been extended until October 1 st of this year, so if you have any piece of defective Rock Band hardware, now is the time to get it replaced.
The bad news is that the policy exists at all. Even if it only applies to the Rock Band wireless guitars for Xbox 360, it still doesn't make very much sense. Unfortunately, the representative did not have an answer to the question of “Why are Americans allowed to get replacements for their Rock Band wireless guitars for Xbox 360, while Canadians are not?”. So I checked in with the Rock Band public relations people last week to see what they had to say. I have still not heard a word back from them yet.
Why does such a policy exist, restricting Canadians access to the full level of support that Americans get? I don't know. I am still hoping that I will receive an answer to that question at some point. I am still looking forward to the release of Rock Band 2 this fall, though. The poorly manufactured peripherals and sad level of support that I myself, and a number of other people who have said their piece across the Internet, have received from Electronic Arts does not mean that a developer like Harmonix, whose software plays brilliantly and works reliably, should suffer from consumers refusing to purchase their games.
Electronic Arts has a lot to think about over the summer, and a major competitor to deal with in the fall. When Guitar Hero World Tour releases this October, Activision will already be working with guitars that are tried, tested and true. If the drum kit and microphone in Guitar Hero World Tour are at least as reliable as the guitars from Guitar Hero s past, save for the limp whammy bars on the Wii version of Guitar Hero III , some players may just pass up Rock Band 2 altogether. Even if players decide to pick up the Game Only version of Rock Band 2 , that still means that EA is missing out on peripheral sales, which can still add up.
A great game, reliable peripherals and good support puts together a whole package. That package isn't something you can just throw stuff into lazily. It's time large companies like EA started getting serious about what they give their customers.