Rock Band Developer Harmonix Put Up For Sale

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Rock Band Developer Harmonix Put Up For Sale

image

Viacom has seen the writing on the wall and put the once-untouchable Rock Band developer Harmonix up for sale.

There was a time when Harmonix was money in the bank. It pioneered the music game genre in 2005 with the groundbreaking Guitar Hero and then, after being acquired in 2006 by Viacom, expanded the concept with the 2007 release of Rock Band. It had enough pull to establish an exclusive deal to bring The Beatles to the genre, working with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the son of Beatles producer Sir George Martin. But the music game genre was already cooling off; The Beatles: Rock Band sales were decent but below analysts' expectations and in February 2010, MTV, a subsidiary of Viacom, tried to get back some of the $150 million in bonuses it had paid Harmonix in 2008 "related to 2007 performance."

Now, with Rock Band 3 sales tanking rather badly, Viacom has decided to wash its hands of the whole thing. The company announced in its third quarter fiscal results for 2010 that it plans to sell Harmonix and has reclassified the business as a "discontinued operation."

Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman said nothing about the apparent decline of the genre in the Q3 earnings call, claiming that the decision to offload Harmonix was strictly a matter of strategic focus. "Our decision to exit this business strategy is to focus on what we do best, and that's creating world class entertainment," he said. "The console games business requires expertise we don't have. For us, this is all about focus."

Harmonix is addressing questions about the situation in a thread on the Rock Band forums and assured gamers that the news is not apocalyptic. "This morning's announcement does not affect the ongoing work at the studio as we continue to support our existing franchises, Rock Band and Dance Central," Harmonix Manager of Communications John Drake wrote. "As stated earlier, Viacom is in discussions with several potential buyers and will continue to fully support the business until a sale is completed."

So who's going to buy Harmonix? The usual suspects have all been mentioned: EA because it wants something to counter Activision's Guitar Hero franchise, Apple because it already has access to a huge library of music in the iTunes store (and a huge pile of cash sitting around), Bethesda because it seems to be having fun these days buying every wayward studio it sees and of course the most obvious choice, which also happens to be the one most fans really don't want to consider: Activision itself.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick admitted in February that purchasing Guitar Hero publisher RedOctane, which it shut down that same month, while ignoring Harmonix was a mistake. "We really didn't even think, 'Hey, we should go to Boston and meet these Harmonix guys and see what they're up to,'" he said, explaining the assumption that replacement studio Neversoft would be able to handle the Guitar Hero franchise as well as anyone. "It would probably be a profitable opportunity for both of us."

Now it appears that Activision may have a second crack at the studio, and it certainly has the resources to make it happen. And while Kotick and company may be the videogame industry's Great Satan of the moment, I don't think it's a bad idea at all. It has the muscle to give the franchise a serious push and, just as important, to maintain and grow the Rock Band DLC library. If nothing else, returning the Guitar Hero franchise to Harmonix would generate no small amount of interest and good will, and Activision has proven with the Blizzard acquisition that it is sometimes willing to just shut up and stay out of the way.

We will, of course, be keeping tabs on the situation and post updates as they happen!

Source: paidContent.org via RockBandAide, with thanks to Tempest Fox for the tip.

Permalink

Y'know, when you go to the same well too many times, eventually you run out of water. And in this metaphor, "well" means "genre", and "water" means "interested customers".

See, it wasn't just Guitar Hero after all. People are finally getting sick of this fad, or just sick of spending obscene amounts of cash on all the accessories.

well, there really is no need having so many "different" band emulators. Merging of guitar hero and rock band libraries could benefit everyone that still plays the game, so I hope activision buys harmonix.

The prices they charge for the controllers are outrageous, its no wonder nobody is buying them.

The Rogue Wolf:
Y'know, when you go to the same well too many times, eventually you run out of water. And in this metaphor, "well" means "genre", and "water" means "interested customers".

And if we were talking the guys behind the current Guitar Hero mess, you'd be on to something.
Besides, this is a business where iteritive sequels are the lifeblood of the business. Madden, CoD, Smackdown, Mario, etc.

My money's on Activision.

Although I may well be proved wrong.

I think we can see Rock Band 3 kill it during the holidays. The sheer cost of this game and the fact that it costs even more money to get the new peripheral suggests that people will wait till the holidays to pick it up.

I'll give you 10,000. Final Offer.

Zenimax is probably already on the phone with them :P

Personally, I'd like to see either EA or Microsoft pick them up. As Dance Central has proven, the next big step for music games could well be Kinect and motion control.. and I would imagine they'd love to have the best music game maker out there be exclusive to Microsoft.

Hmmmmm....

I don't think Apple will buy Harmonix - they have iTunes and whatnot, yes, but thats a music player - I doubt Apple has any interest in publishing a music game anytime soon (as well as any other mainstream gaming title, it's a computer/mobile device company after all).

I think EA will definitely want Harmonix though... considering that Rock Band is generally more popular than Guitar Hero these days, having the better fish than Activision might prove tempting.

Then again... considering the horrid sales... nobody might want them at all :S

And the bidding war's on like Donkey Kong!

How stupid can they be, they just dropped a hugely successful developer right after a major update to their franchise was released.

I would hate to see Rock Band picked up by near anybody... but especially Activision. They have proven with Blizzard that they can stay out of the way, but it's freaking Blizzard. World of Warcraft has everybody drinking unicorn blood on top of a pile of leprechaun gold, Activision wouldn't dare **** with the formula. Rock Band is just a rival game to a dying genre, they would merge it with Guitar Hero without a second thought.

I'm sorry to see the game tanking after the stellar reviews it got... and the fun I've been having with it. :c

Fuck. Rock Band was superior in every way to Guitar Hero, especially in DLC. Now if Activision buys them, it's nothing but shit from here on out. Oh well, my Rock Band 3 disc with 300+ songs will always be there...just sad that I won't be able to continue expanding on it.

Dioxide20:
How stupid can they be, they just dropped a hugely successful developer right after a major update to their franchise was released.

My thoughts exactly. RB3 is critically acclaimed at the moment, and it's only been out for 2 weeks. Were they expecting everyone to immediately upgrade all instruments and buy the game RIGHT NOW? Hell, the Mustang guitar isn't even out yet and the Squier strat doesn't even come out until March - maybe some guitarists are waiting to pick it up then?

Pissing about poor sales right now seems like more than a slight overreaction.

Thunderhorse31:

Dioxide20:
How stupid can they be, they just dropped a hugely successful developer right after a major update to their franchise was released.

My thoughts exactly. RB3 is critically acclaimed at the moment, and it's only been out for 2 weeks. Were they expecting everyone to immediately upgrade all instruments and buy the game RIGHT NOW? Hell, the Mustang guitar isn't even out yet and the Squier strat doesn't even come out until March - maybe some guitarists are waiting to pick it up then?

Pissing about poor sales right now seems like more than a slight overreaction.

I don't know about that, early sales can be a good indication of how the rest will go. I think over saturation is causing guitar games to die. However I think Harmonix is capable of finding the next innovation, the music/rhythm genre isn't dead its just time for the next big change.

drisky:

Thunderhorse31:

Dioxide20:
How stupid can they be, they just dropped a hugely successful developer right after a major update to their franchise was released.

My thoughts exactly. RB3 is critically acclaimed at the moment, and it's only been out for 2 weeks. Were they expecting everyone to immediately upgrade all instruments and buy the game RIGHT NOW? Hell, the Mustang guitar isn't even out yet and the Squier strat doesn't even come out until March - maybe some guitarists are waiting to pick it up then?

Pissing about poor sales right now seems like more than a slight overreaction.

I don't know about that, early sales can be a good indication of how the rest will go. I think over saturation is causing guitar games to die. However I think Harmonix is capable of finding the next innovation, the music/rhythm genre isn't dead its just time for the next big change.

Maybe it has something to do with the whole "You need X guitar to play this game but Game Y can use guitar Z but not guitar X and this game uses guitar X and W" thing. I mean I understand wanting to sell your brands peripherals, but it gets kind of annoying not knowing what guitar or drums work with what game.

Rockband sales are tanking? I didnt know that.

Id buy the company..... but im a bit strapped for cash.

"I have an idea fora new game Guys. We release the exact same game with better graphics and a different sound track." It just had to work..... Maybe people are realizing that if they took the money they spent on the games and the time they spent and put it into real life, they could be a good musician with real instruments.

mjc0961:
See, it wasn't just Guitar Hero after all. People are finally getting sick of this fad, or just sick of spending obscene amounts of cash on all the accessories.

Part of it was Guitar Hero, trying to copy Rock Band's instruments when it is clearly called Guitar Hero and another part of it is the unnecessary stand alone games like GH:Metallica/Beatles Rockband...

drisky:
I think Harmonix is capable of finding the next innovation, the music/rhythm genre isn't dead its just time for the next big change.

Well what do you call keyboards, or three-part harmony, or the pro modes that actually teach you how to play guitar/keys/drums/bass? If that isn't innovation that turns the genre on its head, I can't even imagine what will.

Hah.

Worthless one-hit wonder company.

It won't be missed.

Wtf? Sales cannot be that bad. Perhaps they're bad in the UK because of peripheral issues over the border, but I know for a FACT that every single copy in my city was sold out for the past two weeks, and peripherals have been a pain in the ass to find.

I call complete and utter bullshit, and Viacom has just made one of the most ridiculous decisions ever. Copies are going to sell like hotcakes during the holidays, and they have so easily forgotten that the big sell for the entire game has been the true pro guitar by Strat, which is coming out in the new year.

Selling off the franchise with one of the most critically-acclaimed titles in the whole history of music games 2 weeks into the release. Idiots.

Please.

The game is 'Simon' with a soundtrack.

Commander Breetai:
Please.

The game is 'Simon' with a soundtrack.

That sounds like more of a statement regarding music games as a whole, and not Rock Band specifically. You are biased against music games, and that's fine.

Us musicians and music fans will stay on this side of the "silly infantile bias" line, thank you.

Andy Chalk:

returning the Guitar Hero franchise to Harmonix...

Oh god no! We don't need Harmonix messing up GH now. It has become an excellent series for the uncommon "hardcore" music gamer. They're better off sticking to their average series.
Also...

Xzi:
Fuck. Rock Band was inferior in every way to Guitar Hero, except in DLC.

Fixed. (almost, but good enough)

Tankichi:
"I have an idea fora new game Guys. We release the exact same game with better graphics and a different sound track." It just had to work..... Maybe people are realizing that if they took the money they spent on the games and the time they spent and put it into real life, they could be a good musician with real instruments.

Yes, because buying a $300+ professional guitar, on top of money for lessons to play "Mary Had a Little Lab" is so much superior to paying $150 for a guitar, microphone, and drums to play "Bohemian Rhapsody" that is nothing like playing a real guitar in the first place. Y'know, 'cause everyone can just pick up a real guitar and be a rock god in a matter of minutes after playing Rock Band.

Seriously, People are much too serious and elitist over the music genre.

Commander Breetai:
Hah.

Worthless one-hit wonder company.

It won't be missed.

7 games on various platforms with a couple billion profit would tell you otherwise. Don't even try to deny their impact on the industry, they've had one whether you like it or not.

Seriously, when did this hate for music games pop up? I thought we got past the "learn a real instrument!" phase, didn't we?

OT: So does this mean that the Rock Band franchise is done? This is an incredibly stupid decision by Viacom, at least wait until the holidays to see how things pan out.

Madmanonfire:

Andy Chalk:

returning the Guitar Hero franchise to Harmonix...

Oh god no! We don't need Harmonix messing up GH now. It has become an excellent series for the uncommon "hardcore" music gamer. They're better off sticking to their average series.
Also...

Xzi:
Fuck. Rock Band was inferior in every way to Guitar Hero, except in DLC.

Fixed. (almost, but good enough)

How so? I mean, you entitled to your opinion n' all, but don't just scurry off going "Har har, fixed!" and not explain your position. From where I stand, Rock Band is superior to Guitar Hero in terms of focus, song choices, and DLC, with little dabbles in more innovative ways to play. If you don't think so, that's fine, but don't play the hit-n-run card here.

Jumplion:

How so? I mean, you entitled to your opinion n' all, but don't just scurry off going "Har har, fixed!" and not explain your position. From where I stand, Rock Band is superior to Guitar Hero in terms of focus, song choices, and DLC, with little dabbles in more innovative ways to play. If you don't think so, that's fine, but don't play the hit-n-run card here.

I just tire of explaining time and time again, but since you asked... (and I'll try not to comment a lot on RB3 because I haven't played it yet and can't make any real solid claims about it or in contrast.)

-It's hard to argue against song choice because RB DLC is too huge, but concerning on-disc songs, there are generally more songs I enjoy playing on GH games more than RB games. Single player on GH entertains me a lot more than on RB, which would probably be corrected by getting a lot of DLC, but I don't want to buy a whole lot of extra songs.
-RB does innovate with completely new instruments added in to the music games, but I don't notice them doing a lot with it except for chord HOPO's and 3-part vocals. I mean, GH now also has chord HOPO's, tap notes, (had) slider effects to sustains, notes during held sustains (which makes some charts much more accurate to play), open and "held" open bass notes, drum sustains commonly used for cymbal rolls, expert+, and accent drum notes, plus larger additions like being able to play with any instrument combination. (might be forgetting some) Also, I'm guessing RB now has some of these with the jump to pro mode, but I don't see pro mode as much of a game because it's almost exactly like playing a real instrument, but at a screen.
-I tend to favor GH mechanics as well, especially being able to activate starpower anytime on drums and vocals. I really don't like the idea of drum fills taking away parts of RB drum charts.
-Sadly, I only wish GH's online play was as good as RB's. But, as I stated earlier, GH entertains me enough in single player so it doesn't bother me a whole lot. (and I find some RB people online annoying because they like to quit when other people don't have similar DLC.)
Also, I skipped GH5 and TBRB because their song lists didn't appeal to me a whole lot.

Just about all I've said is based off of playing RB1 and 2, so I apologize if any of this can be easily countered by newer RB games. Once I play it, I can make better comparisons.

Edit: Also, these are not all the reasons behind my stance. I don't want to say too much.

mjc0961:
See, it wasn't just Guitar Hero after all. People are finally getting sick of this fad, or just sick of spending obscene amounts of cash on all the accessories.

Yeah, I guess consumers are. They have Kinect and Move now, beetches.

Now that they got that silly billy business with Rock Band out of the way, how about a sequel to Amplitude?

Madmanonfire:

Jumplion:

How so? I mean, you entitled to your opinion n' all, but don't just scurry off going "Har har, fixed!" and not explain your position. From where I stand, Rock Band is superior to Guitar Hero in terms of focus, song choices, and DLC, with little dabbles in more innovative ways to play. If you don't think so, that's fine, but don't play the hit-n-run card here.

I just tire of explaining time and time again, but since you asked... (and I'll try not to comment a lot on RB3 because I haven't played it yet and can't make any real solid claims about it or in contrast.)

-It's hard to argue against song choice because RB DLC is too huge, but concerning on-disc songs, there are generally more songs I enjoy playing on GH games more than RB games. Single player on GH entertains me a lot more than on RB, which would probably be corrected by getting a lot of DLC, but I don't want to buy a whole lot of extra songs.
-RB does innovate with completely new instruments added in to the music games, but I don't notice them doing a lot with it except for chord HOPO's and 3-part vocals. I mean, GH now also has chord HOPO's, tap notes, (had) slider effects to sustains, notes during held sustains (which makes some charts much more accurate to play), open and "held" open bass notes, drum sustains commonly used for cymbal rolls, expert+, and accent drum notes, plus larger additions like being able to play with any instrument combination. (might be forgetting some) Also, I'm guessing RB now has some of these with the jump to pro mode, but I don't see pro mode as much of a game because it's almost exactly like playing a real instrument, but at a screen.
-I tend to favor GH mechanics as well, especially being able to activate starpower anytime on drums and vocals. I really don't like the idea of drum fills taking away parts of RB drum charts.
-Sadly, I only wish GH's online play was as good as RB's. But, as I stated earlier, GH entertains me enough in single player so it doesn't bother me a whole lot. (and I find some RB people online annoying because they like to quit when other people don't have similar DLC.)
Also, I skipped GH5 and TBRB because their song lists didn't appeal to me a whole lot.

Just about all I've said is based off of playing RB1 and 2, so I apologize if any of this can be easily countered by newer RB games. Once I play it, I can make better comparisons.

Edit: Also, these are not all the reasons behind my stance. I don't want to say too much.

From what I heard, Expert+ only added extra notes that aren't even in the song, but whatever.

I'm one of those Rock Band/Guitar Hero guys that buys one of the games knowing little to none of the songs but ends up liking most of them.

But anyway, thanks for sharing that, definitely made some points in there, but overall I still prefer Rock Band as it really is a more focused experience than the Guitar Hero franchise has been recently.

Jumplion:

From what I heard, Expert+ only added extra notes that aren't even in the song, but whatever.

That might be true for the snare drum, since it gets ghost notes apparently. I'm a tad skeptical about it. (I think it's new?)
But more importantly, it adds every bass drum note for songs that the band's drummer would use double kick pedals in. For example, Hard To See (5FDP, GH6) for the intro and chorus, and Scream (A7X, DLC) for different sections. I believe it's easy to hear the double bass notes in these two songs just casually listening to them, and I know Scream can be compared on both GH and RB, so you can see how expert+ adds in all the bass notes in GH and expert on GH and RB leaves enough out so it's possible to play with one foot.
If I had enough skill and a good pair of bass pedals, I could check for these fake extra notes in the really hard songs, but I can't...

My moneys on Microsoft who would want Dance Central to themselves or ZeniMax who is buying anything that moves.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here