Here is the news, a major Canadian retailer has updated their listing for Rockband to reflect a Dec.28 launch date, and a gouged-up price.
It remains to be seen if this is an error on Futureshop's part, or a date/price unique to their chain. However, based on the last two month's track record, we can be almost certain that no official confirmation or denial will emerge from the companies involved. I suppose we'll only know for sure when Canadians bring the game home from their local retailers, although this is little consolation to anybody who was hoping to make RockBand the centrepiece of their holidays.
At this point, if I can't get the game before Xmas and at the a price point the reflects the exchange rate like every other game on the shelf, I'm just not interested in validating this kind of corporate malfeasance by purchasing their product.
I mean, I was really, really anticipating this game since it was announced, but the slighting of Canadian customers has gone too far.
Last month when Canadians were informed that "Oh, Canada isn't part of the North American release", it was a slap in the face, and the suggested justification of French language packaging requirements was a pathetic fig leaf - no other product from EA or Harmonix has required a separate shipping date because of the bilingual packaging.
I said at the time that I suspected EA was trying to satisfy their American shareholders and major US retailers by hoarding inventory that was originally intened for the Canadian release in order to better meet US demands over the extremely important Black Friday retail period. Economically, it made better sense to put on a good display on launch week and satisfy the extra American customers and produce impressive numbers for their primarily-American shareholders -- so what if it frosted off a few Canadians, they'll be happy to buy it later.
When it became apparent that a very large share of American customers had been sold sub-par, failure prone equipment and would require warranty replacements of their peripherals, I expressed my concern that the production of guitars and drums that were intended for the now-delayed Canadian release would be cannibalized to placate angry American customers before it threatened the profitability of their DLC-based revenue model. In order to fulfil warranty obligations and retain a purchase-base for DLC, peripherals coming off the production line would have to be diverted out of the stream of retail bundle inventory and into American RMA replacements -- and these replacements would therefore represent diminished production of new retail units, and imperil a 2007 Canadian release date, but again it makes a mercenary sense.
I very much suspect that this is what has indeed happened.
I do not expect to hear an official word confirming or denying any of the details of the original story, nor any of my conjecture here.
The original Canadian delays, the fault-plagued peripherals of the initial US launch, and now this additional likely delay for the Canadian market, taken with an inflated price point for DLC has cooled my once-great enthusiasm for this game.
My intent to purchase then hangs in the balance until we all find out how much EA/HMX really values the Canadian market. If the game is not available before the 25th of December, and if I cannot find a major Canadian retailer selling the game at the same manufacturer's suggested retail price -- I will not purchase the game, ever. It will be a great disapointment, but it will have to be a principled move on my part. Far be it from me to speak for other Canadians, but I would hope I am not the only one that feels this way.
I am willing to be pleasantly surprised. I would like nothing more than to get a call about my pre-order before Xmas -- I would be happy to pay the MSRP of 169.99, and I would very likely, though begrudgingly, purchase DLC at the inflated price point.
For now, I will sit back and wait to see what happens. I hope my faith in Harmonix and EA has not been misplaced read