Harmonix, Viacom, EA, and MTV have been named in a class action suit brought by Monte Morgan alleging that the following companies put out a defective product in an attempt to “deliberately cheat large numbers of consumers out of individually small sums of money.” The suit comes on the heels of the expiration of EA's no-questions-asked warranty extension (which ended Oct. 1 2008). Now all replacements are free only for the first 60 days after purchase. Lawyers for Morgan are arguing that not only did Harmonix et al know that the equipment was defective, but they are now attempting to exploit that fact by offering new drum pedals with Rock Band 2. They also argue that the new 60 day extension is not nearly enough time. Naturally, MTV and Harmonix deny these allegations, calling them "baseless" and "opportunistic."
I have quite a bit of personal experience with this: I'm on my third pedal, second guitar, second USB hub, and second set of drum heads. Having spent probably a thousand dollars or so on Rock Band in the past year, let me say that when my equipment breaks, EA should be there to fix it - especially the drum pedals. It is nearly impossible to not break a pedal once you start playing on expert and kicks are coming 200+/song. I have gone so far as to do some preventive medicine on my pedal so it won't break and I won't have to deal with EA again. I bought the wireless RB2 drums and they were broken out of the box. EA lost my order so it has been more than two months now since I bought the drums and I haven't played them one bit (supposedly they are on the way).
So far, my experience with EA has been very positive: I say it is broken, they send me a new one, no questions or fees. Now, if my equipment breaks and I have to pay - that will become a problem. Seeing as how I am still giving Rock Band at least $20/month for new songs, I expect that the equipment will last longer than 2 months, at which point it will no longer be under warranty. Frankly, the ease of replacement has kept me playing, so hearing that they will no longer be acting like that is unsettling. I am constantly reminding players at my house, "Be careful...this IS a toy."
This warranty issue could seriously affect the longevity of Rock Band - I do not know why they changed their approach, but I can imagine that the fan boys out there (including myself) will get really angry when their equipment breaks and the only option for replacement is an $80 outlay for "new" "instruments."
As for the suit itself, I do not believe that Harmonix was deliberately selling faulty equipment - they were taking many steps forward with Rock Band and the drum pedal's inadequacy become apparent early on. When the warranty was in place it was excusable; without it though, it is much less so.