Harmonix announced that legendary rock group Van Halen will headline its upcoming band simulation game Rock Band 4 with a playable version of its hit song Panama.
Van Halen’s music is frequently requested among Rock Band fans, but an exclusivity agreement with Activision once prevented the group from appearing outside of the rival Guitar Hero franchise.
Activision previously secured the exclusive rights to feature Van Halen’s music in its rhythm games. Guitar Hero: Van Halen, a spinoff game that included several of the band’s tracks alongside other featured artists, launched for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and PS2 in 2009.
The publisher established exclusivity agreements with multiple groups at the height of Guitar Hero’s popularity, producing similar band-focused series releases like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: Metallica.
The exclusivity period has apparently ended, freeing up Van Halen for its upcoming Rock Band debut. Panama will be included as an on-disc track in Rock Band 4, and additional Van Halen songs will launch as DLC in the months after the game’s launch.
“For years we’ve wanted to bring Van Halen’s music to Rock Band,” Harmonix CEO Steve Janiak stated. “Not only are the songs incredible in their own right, but they’re amazingly fun to play and perform, whether you’re on guitar, bass, drums, or vocals.”
Series developer Harmonix also announced that PlayStation 4 owners can receive a batch of 10 free bonus tracks by pre-ordering Rock Band 4 at select retailers. Songs featured in the promotion include Janis Joplin’s Move Over, Duran Duran’s The Reflex, and a live version of Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell. All pre-order incentive songs will later launch as downloadable content for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 editions of Rock Band 4.
Rock Band 4 will launch on October 6, featuring playable guitar, percussion, and vocal tracks via game-specific peripherals. Rhythm genre pioneer Guitar Hero is also due to return later this year with a redesigned guitar accessory and video-driven gameplay simulating live performances.