It’s been five years since the video game market has seen a new retail Rock Band game, enabling players to “jam out” to a number of their favorite tunes using a microphone or a number of plastic instruments. But this week, the party has returned with the release of Rock Band 4 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

As with previous entries in the series, the game has a Band-In-a-Box bundle where newbies can pick up a drum set and guitar with the game. However, Rock Band 4 is also backwards compatible not only with some older songs from previous releases, but also older instruments though a special adapter is needed to play with them.

The game has been getting a tremendous social push since its release, including a live stream on Rooster Teeth that drew thousands of fans and a number of media posts from fans and artists alike. Some hardcore players have even been posting their playthrough videos, including several from Ciji “StarSlay3r” Thornton (amongst other players).

To get an idea of what went into the return of Rock Band 4, we chatted with both Nick Chester, the PR and communications lead for the developers at Harmonix, and Alex Verrey, global PR and communications director for the game’s publisher Mad Catz.

First off, Chester explained that it was all about finding the right time to return. “For us, it was about taking some time to creatively energize ourselves with other projects before returning to the franchise that we love so much. We were able to use that creative energy and distance from the series to help us focus on the things that were most important to players, and to innovative in areas where we saw opportunities. Taking time off, we were able to come back and objectively see that, yes, the game was incredibly fun, but also lacking in some areas. One of those areas was creativity and self-expression, and the Freestyle Guitar Solo gameplay addresses that and is a hell of a lot of fun!

“We re also in a good time in the console cycle, where enough folks have these boxes in their homes, and there s really no experience like this that was available,” he continued. “We think Rock Band is important, we think the cooperative feeling of playing and making music with friends and family is powerful, and we re excited we can finally deliver that.”

New hardware also played a big part in Rock Band’s revival, according to Verrey. “We made the conscious decision to make the new hardware look near enough identical to the previous generation of controllers. We didn t want to alienate fans that had spent thousands of hours getting to know their Rock Band hardware. That said, nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact, all of the hardware for Rock Band 4 has been completely re-built from the ground up.

“We re proud of the new hardware and we think fans will notice the improvements immediately.”

Then, of course, there’s the marketing side of things, and reviving a brand that’s been somewhat dormant for five years certainly isn’t an easy task. However, thanks to the game’s avid fanbase, Chester explained that it worked out pretty well. “We already had an audience that was still there,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of players were still logging in and playing Rock Band per month, which is nothing to sneeze at. For us, first and foremost, it was making sure that the core group knew we were coming back and that we were doing everything we could to bring them they game they wanted on new-gen platforms.

“Next, it was about tapping into the audience of lapses players who, for whatever reason, haven t had the Rock Band experience in a while, but had amazing memories. There is certainly a bit of nostalgia that we played into, and what we found is that by getting the game in people s hands again, they were instantly transported back to the place they were five or six years ago, and the magic was still there.

“Finally, there s an entire audience that really has never played these games before, and it was about not only giving them something unique like with this Freestyle Guitar Solos but also enabling those first two groups to become evangelists for the game, and bring in new players. Rock Band is a social game, and playing on that certainly helps expand our audience.”

The game will have ample support with songs as well, old and new alike, according to Chester. “We moved our massive catalog of over 1700 songs to new-gen platforms at launch, but also released more than a dozen completely new songs. Music is the backbone of the franchise and the gameplay, so we ll continue to bring people great content well beyond release.”

As far as the future of the series and the promotional push that will come behind it Chester concluded, “We re floored by the response so far, and it bodes well for what we can and want to do for the series. Rock Band 4 is a platform that we ll build on with new content over the years; not just music, but with significant features. We already have our first feature update planned for early December, and it brings with it a host of new social and competitive features, and other surprises that we think fans are going to love. And we can listen to our fans, too. We re already getting feedback that is shaping what that update will include, so we love to hear from our players. We re really excited to deliver this content to our fans for free this holiday.”

For those who wish to rock out, Rock Band 4 is available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.