Viacom confirms sale of struggling Harmonix

Thursday, 11th November 2010 13:53 GMT By Patrick Garratt


Viacom has confirmed it’s to sell Rock Band studio Harmonix, the AP reports.

There’s very little detail on the move, other than the sale has helped Viacom to beat analysts’ expectations in the quarter ending September 30.

There’s no detail in that Bloomberg report as to who’s bought the studio. Harmonix said that “several buyers” are being courted and that its existing IPs – Rock Band and Dance Central – won’t be affected by the news.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Harmonix has “dragged on the company’s results for the past several quarters as shoppers continue to avoid big discretionary buys,” blaming the high price of the Rock Band games and their “pricey accessories”.

Rock Band 3, the latest Harmonix release, has failed to attract significant sales in the UK, selling only 7,000 in its opening week.

Harmonix boss Alex Rigopulos said earlier this month that more focus had been put on European content for the game in an effort to match American success.

Thanks, Psychotext and typeface.



  1. Psychotext


    #1 4 years ago
  2. typeface

    I was just reading this at WSJ. They say that the company isn’t really profitable for them anymore.
    As WSJ quotes “The company didn’t say in a statement why a sale is occurring, but the move resulted in Viacom recording a $299 million loss from discontinued operations. The lion’s share of that is write-downs.”

    #2 4 years ago
  3. trivi4l

    @2 Ahh I see. Well that means more freedom for Harmonix if it gets picked up right?

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    @2 – Link to the WSJ article?

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Psychotext

    #5 4 years ago
  6. typeface

    edit: ah 5 beat me to it. But yeah that’s the one

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Blerk

    Weren’t there rumours that Activision were going to buy them the other day? Or did I dream that?

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Psychotext

    Sadly the one with the full “company didn’t say in a statement” bit is subscribers only.

    @Blerk: EA is probably a better fit given Activision own Guitar Hero.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Erthazus

    EA or Microsoft will buy them.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Blerk

    Depends if Acti want to amalgamate everything back into one uberfranchise or not, I guess. Would EA even want them given the horrible Rock Band 3 sales so far?

    Unless Microsoft buy them and make them do Dance Central sequels forever. :-)

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Patrick Garratt


    #11 4 years ago
  12. Blerk


    #12 4 years ago
  13. Erthazus

    @10 They actually have a 3DS game that is in development.

    So MS buy? I don’t think so.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Blerk

    Why not? Rare do DS games.

    Note that I don’t actually think Microsoft will buy them.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Psychotext

    “Would EA even want them given the horrible Rock Band 3 sales so far?”

    Ultrabargain price innit. Buyers market.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Freek

    Not ever properly launching the game in Europe probably has a little something to do with the bad sales.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Zonejeu

    Not surprised by the poor sales in Europe. If you look at it, Rock Band 1 had French and German songs in it, but neither RB2 or 3 did keep that trend.

    Also, it’s a little thing but can be significant : in RB1 and 2 solo mode you could choose to be a European band, and this has been removed in RB3 where you have no choice but to be American.

    After that, do they say that they’re focusing on Europe ?

    #17 4 years ago
  18. f1r3storm

    ZeniMax? :p

    #18 4 years ago
  19. drewbles82

    I love the Rock band games and i hate GH. The reasons i can see for the bad sales is the pro guitar with strings isnt out til March, no one could get hold of the bundles with the keyboard and the button pro guitar wasnt out either straight away.
    To top it off, you bring out this game with expensive instruments a week before Black ops, biggest selling game of the year and Kinect. Who has enough money to get all these.
    What they should have done is waited, keep rock band players interested by making good DLC that could have pro stuff etc so ppl can build up a collection ready for RB3 and their new pro instruments in March. We got xmas coming up, job cuts, so many other new games coming. By March ppl should have some money back in their pockets.
    I hope non of this selling etc means anything changes for RB inless it makes more dlc etc.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. typeface

    To be honest, despite Dance Central I don’t think MS is best poised to buy Harmonix. There’s the issue of licensing all the tracks, renewals of license and things like that to take care of. Not that they couldn’t but it’s not something they usually invest in (esp after the huge marketing blowout for Kinect and the win7phones).

    It’s most likely to be a company that likes to do these sort of deals or owns a good music library themselves (Since the thing they’d like to do is reach profitability).

    Didn’t Apple/Steve Jobs want to buy a company? This is pretty much right up his alley in that sense. WBIE might also buy it. Possibly SE but I think they’re not on a buying spree at the moment. Sony Music could think of it as could Dreamworks. Even Acti-Blizz to maintain monopoly.
    If EA doesn’t buy it, it’s probably the end of the ‘Rock Band’ brand most likely and whatever game that comes up next would be under a new name.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. varsas

    This is what happens when a company focuses it attention on 1 platform (360) and support the others (PS3 and Wii) well enough. Less focus on the need for new perphierals should have been a key feature for RB3 to improve market share against GH.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. DiodeX

    So, will RB3 be cheap soon? :D

    #22 4 years ago
  23. DSB

    @22 You could just buy the company :P

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Psychotext

    “Hi Guys:

    We’ve seen a lot of questions pop up in response to Viacom’s statements this morning regarding their intention to sell Harmonix. We’ve posted this thread to respond to those questions. Please keep your forum conversations regarding this matter in this thread. We’ll check in throughout the day as we’re able.

    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. As stated earlier, Viacom is in discussions with several potential buyers and will continue to fully support the business until a sale is completed.

    If you have additional questions or concerns, please post them in this thread. If you’re a member of the media with inquiry, you can reach out to us at (Please don’t email this address if you’re not from a press outlet).

    #24 4 years ago
  25. datamonkey

    Yay does this finally signal the death of these boring music games?

    Man what did they expect? They’ve been milked so much it’s embarrassing…

    #25 4 years ago
  26. varsas

    @25: Dull war FPS games have been milked to death but they are still being made.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. freedoms_stain

    @26, but they don’t carry triple figure price tags.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. EscoBlades

    Please…no more RB games….

    #28 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.