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Harmonix has some big plans for Rock Band 4. And no, this isn't a follow-up on the Battleborn news. The team actually has announced that they will be bringing synchronous online multiplayer to the title later this year.
Criss Burki, the associate community manager at Harmonix, explained in a post on the PlayStation blog that the online multiplayer for home consoles would be making a return to Rock Band 4. The reason the multiplayer is arriving a little later than usual is because in a poll they conducted prior to the game releasing, a majority of gamers didn't feel as if online multiplayer would be essential to the game at launch but would be cool to have patched in later down the road. Plus, the multiplayer would have delayed the game by several months, and it wouldn't have been fair to gamers who just wanted the single-player content.
The multiplayer addition was announced during a panel at PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts, but the developers decided to expand on the news a bit further by making a public post on the PlayStation blog. They also had a very short and sweet video from Helen, the creative lead on Rock Band 4 to confirm the news video a 31 second video.
The blog post further notes that they're working hard right now to iron out any of the issues that would happen on the back end, especially regarding compatibility between players who have Rock Band 4 DLC and players who don't. Previously, there were some synchronicity issues between DLC players and non-DLC players, so they want to navigate that minefield as cautiously as possible without breaking up the community or breaking the game.
I'm curious if they'll just take the route that Overkill Software did with Payday 2? In that game anyone hosting a game with the DLC will automatically enable the other players to be able to join in on the action, even if the other players don't have the DLC. They could do the same thing with Rock Band 4... making it where the player hosting the game would enable all players to take part in the DLC if they join the game, even if they didn't purchase the DLC themselves.
The above method worked wonders for both keeping the community together in Payday 2 and for advertising the DLC, since players who didn't have it got a small taste of it when they joined games that were playing the downloadable content. It's a great way incentive for tempting players to spend a little extra and join the DLC parade. Alternatively they could do what Call of Duty and Battlefield do: lock players out of the content and fragment the player base. That hasn't proven to be very effective over time for games that aren't Call of Duty or Battlefield but that hasn't stopped some developers from going that route anyway.
The multiplayer content in Rock Band 4 isn't the only thing on the horizon, though. The post on the PlayStation website also reveals that they have fall content in the pipeline. However, gamers won't get any details about the fall content until this June at E3.