Harmonix’s CEO speaks with Joystiq about the upcoming rocking rhythm game.

As the release of Rock Band rushes toward us, Joystiq took the time to interview Harmonix Chief Executive Officer Alex Rigopulos about selecting songs to include in the game and the rivalry with Activision’s Guitar Hero.

Joystiq: Speaking of deals: licensing. What is the process like for a song to go through the Rock Band music advisory board?

Alex Rigopulos: MTV Games and Harmonix will rely on the Rock Band Music Advisory Board members to pool their industry expertise and guide the development team in the selection of tracks and artists for Rock Band. Because the Music Advisory Board is a new entity, we are still determining the exact step-by-step process for selecting tracks and artists.[/b]

Joystiq: Not to fuel the fire, but Rock Band will be in a position where it competes with the Guitar Hero series. A series that will now thrive on one, possibly two titles a year. Release wise, will Harmonix be entering the annual game or will downloadable content replace the need?

AR: We do view Rock Band as a platform, onto which we intend to deliver a steady flow of high quality expansion content, both online and through retail as well. And I do think that this will go a long way towards maintaining the freshness of the play experience for quite a while. But I also don’t believe we can rely on content expansion alone in the long term. For players to remain engaged, we need to continue to innovate on the feature axis as well; we need to give them new ways to play, new ways to engage with the music and with other players. As for whether these sorts of major feature upgrades come annually or at some longer interval, we haven’t decided.

Joystiq: How do you feel the mainstream press has been treating Rock Band so far? Is there a “been there, done that” notion or do you feel as if they understand the difference between Rock Band and your previous series?

AR: The press response has been overwhelmingly positive. As you know, Rock Band won Best of Show from the E3 judges, which the team was thrilled about. In general, the press hasn’t had much difficulty at all seeing how large a departure Rock Band is from our previous work.

Joystiq: Rock Band sports a very robust online component, but detractors still believe there is “no point” to online rhythm titles. What would you say that point is?

AR: Sometimes there are specific people who you want to play with-or compete against-but for whatever reason you can’t all be in the same place at the same time. Online play solves this problem. In my own case, for example, I have brothers who live in other cities, and I’m looking forward to being able to play Rock Band with them.

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