updated 11:00 pm EDT, Wed May 2, 2012
Reverses course, now says message was 'in error'
Update: Electronic Arts has now issued a statement saying that "Rock Band for iOS will remain live -- the in-app message users received yesterday were sent in error. We apologize for the confusion this caused," and added that it will share additional information "as soon as possible." EA had in fact put up a notice on its website that it was suspending support of Rock Band as of May 31st, and users received a message that the game would no longer be playable (see picture, below). The company has offered no explanation for how both errors occurred, but now says the game will remain playable, at least in single-player mode.
Discovered earlier today by Reddit users, publisher Electronic Arts is remotely deactivating all iOS Rock Band installs on May 31. The developer of the game, Harmonix Music Systems, says it is unaware of the reasoning behind Electronic Arts' shutdown of the game, which relies on no external server support to function. A different version of Rock Band, Rock Band Reloaded, released in December of 2010, is unaffected by the discontinuation of the original title.
Rock Band isn't the first title Electronic Arts has orphaned, but it is the first it has terminated. The original iOS release of Sim City was discontinued, but was allowed to continue functioning. Tetris was yanked off the iTunes App Store in favor of a completely new version that customers would have to repurchase for further upgrades. The original Rock Band title released in 2009 is the first application outright terminated by Electronic Arts. Older console titles are periodically affected by permanent server shutdowns, but the single-player component of those titles continue to function past the server shutdown.
Electronic Arts has a clause in their end user license agreement that states "the term of your License shall commence on the date that you install or otherwise use the Application, and shall end on the earlier of the date that you dispose of - the Application; or EA's termination of this License." Just about every other software package has similar wording, but complete remote termination of an application is uncommon. As of this writing, the original Rock Band application has no official mention of the discontinuation and termination of the title. Reviews by users posted today do address the shutdown.
Harmonix Music Systems was founded in 1995, and developed Frequency, Amplitude, Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, the Rock Band series, and Phase. Electronic Arts was founded in 1982 and has grown into the number one game publisher in the United States with a 16 percent market share. In recent years, Electronic Arts has come under fire for some perceived anti-consumer moves, including the addition of a $10 online pass to some titles. While the online pass is free to initial purchasers, purchasers of used copies or renters must pay $10 to access the online components of some console titles.