EA has finally confirmed that Harmonix’s much awaited Rock Band is to launch in the UK as a ‘timed Xbox 360 exclusive’ on 23 May.

The Xbox 360 will only have the game as an exclusive for a short while, with Wii and PS3 versions penned in for later this summer, with most commentators pegging August as a likely release date for those versions.

Double US prices

And while TechRadar cannot wait to play what promises to be the ultimate ‘band in a box’ game, we cannot help but question the UK price tag – a whopping £180 for the full game, including drums, lead guitar, bass guitar and karaoke-style microphone. It seems particularly steep when the game is currently available in the US for $148 on Amazon approximately £74)

In fact, for a mere $427.98 (around £215 not including shipping) you could even shell out for a US Xbox 360 Arcade bundle plus Rock Band, which puts the over-inflated price of the UK version into context.

A serious gaming investment

Tony Mott, editor on gaming bible EDGE told us, after hearing the news today that: “Everyone was expecting the European edition of Rock Band to be costly, but no one was prepared for £180, which is obviously the cost of a new console. Yes, you have to bear in mind that the game’s hardware set-up is unique, but for many people that’s still a painful amount of cash to hand over."

Mott adds:" We've already had readers telling us that they feel like shunning the Euro version on principle. Ultimately, though, Rock Band’s always been about serious investment, especially when you bear in mind how much you might spend over time buying downloadable music tracks, and EA knows full well how much European gamers have been looking forward to it, so I think that even at such a high price it’ll shift plenty of units.”

Downloadable tunes

Sixty-seven (mostly superb) tracks will be playable right out of the Rock Band box, including nine UK exclusive tracks that computerandvideogames.com reported on earlier today.

An additional 70 songs available via Xbox Live will be made available from 27 May costing 160 MS (just over £1) points per track.

£230 plus for the lot!

A quick bit of maths and you can quickly work out that to buy all 70 additional tracks via download will cost you 11,200 Microsoft points – around an additional £50 if you were to buy them in one block (or slightly more if not). This bumps up the total cost of kit plus game plus extra downloadable tunes to £230.

Ouch! At these prices Rock Band better live up to the hype.

EA will also be making additional tunes simultaneously available in the US and Europe on a weekly basis.