[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]ack in 2003, Amplitude launched as a sequel to the already-popular Frequency rhythm game. Although Harmonix already had a fan following, it continued to grow in this era before they hit paydirt with Guitar Hero (and later, Rock Band). Their Kickstarter campaign for a brand new Amplitude, which launched in May 2014, was pretty huge itself. Their goal was $775,000 and they gave themselves only 19 days for funding. Fans pulled together and made it a reality with almost a hundred thousand bucks to spare. If you looked at the tiers back then, you’d have expected to get your copy of Amplitude by March 2015.
Of course, we know that didn’t happen. What did happen was Amplitude received a release date window of “summer” as it was taken to various conventions in a very playable state. Unfortunately, Harmonix has now shared the news that the summer timeframe isn’t happening. Nor is fall, either. Instead, they’re now targeting January (with early access pledgers getting in during December). There’s no doubt this is a huge disappointment but at least they’ve revealed their reasons for the delay.
As it turns out, they’ve decided to “double down, increase the project budget, and make the new Amplitude bigger and better than the scope of game we originally pitched to you all last year.” Great, now Amplitude fans will be getting an even more fantastic game with double the music (from 16 to 31 tracks), two more playable environments, more playmodes, and a secret new feature! Even so, I can’t help wondering why this decision was made. Usually, Kickstarter folks decide to expand the scope of a game because they’ve received far more money than expected (even though that doesn’t always turn out for the best!). So, why press so hard to turn this title into an even more spectacular release before it’s out — and before they know if it will even succeed in the modern marketplace?
I honestly couldn’t say what Harmonix is thinking from that perspective. In my opinion I would adore rhythm/music games to have such wide appeal today, but it’s a genre that seems to go through high and low periods. The game could launch to stunning success in January or it could become a completely niche release. My belief for why they’ve decided to go all in with Amplitude is because it’s the epitome of a passion project. Just take a look at their game development history and you’ll see that they’ve never given up on the Frequency/Amplitude gameplay style.
Beyond Frequency and its sequel Amplitude, Harmonix has returned to the lane-focused, note-matching gameplay even long after the mainstream had forgotten. When Rock Band was king the company ritualistically returned to their classic gameplay style with Rock Band Unplugged on PSP in 2009 and once again with Rock Band Blitz on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. Sure, they had different names, but if you just sat down and played them they might as well have been modern gen versions of Amplitude with a rock soundtrack.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Harmonix have been dying to create Amplitude proper for years before this Kickstarter ever launched. As such, they’re pouring everything they have into this project, effectively matching backer pledges with their own funds to make it the best game as possible. I applaud them for this effort and hope that their passion will infect others once it finally does come out in January.
Did you back Amplitude? Are you upset by the delay or happy because it means you’ll be getting a far more polished, expanded game?