Why Japan Never Got Rock Band

A few years back, Rock Band exploded in North America. In Europe. In Australia. It didn't in Japan. There must be a reason for that.

There is. The game was never released in Japan. There must be a reason for that. There are—several.

According to Harmonix Music Systems' boss Alex Rigopulos, there was interest in bringing Rock Band to Japan. Japanese music games have always been an inspiration for Harmonix.

Rumors swirled that Harmonix was working on a Japanese version. According to Rigopulos, licensing Japanese music proved challenging. It wasn't just that—the game's iconic peripherals ran into headwinds in Japan. Houses are small, and there's less space to store all the plastic instruments. What's more, Rigopulos said, was that Japanese people tend to be quieter at home and have fewer home parties than Westerners.

People in Japan do entertain at home; however, he'd dead on that people here do tend to be quieter at home.

With homes not providing the ideal space to enjoy Rock Band, Rigopulos said that Harmonix was looking into releasing the game in Japanese arcades or even in Japanese karaoke parlors. The arcades were too noisy, said Rigopulos. Karaoke parlors also weren't ideal. They're divided into small rooms; those rooms have tables that are fixed to the floor, making it difficult to clear a space to play Rock Band and thus nixing the chance of a Rock Band karaoke paralor release in Japan.

With Dance Central, aka the Kinect game, Harmonix was finally able to release one of its latest titles in Japan, offering Japanese gamers to chance to enjoy music gaming, without the peripheral fuss. For Harmonix, success in Japan has never sounded as sweet.


You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at bashcraft@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.