EA not interested in buying Harmonix

Publisher's CEO likens theoretical purchase to catching a falling knife, says it would look like EA was "doubling down on yesterday."

When Viacom announced plans to sell off Dance Central developer Harmonix earlier this month, speculation rose about possible purchasers. One oft-suggested suitor was Electronic Arts, distributor of Harmonix's Rock Band games through its EA Partners program.

Yesterday, all Harmonix's problems seemed so far away…

EA CEO John Riccitiello put an end to that particular piece of speculation this week in an interview with Bloomberg. The executive told the news service his company was moving in a different strategic direction for a number of reasons, one of them being the way investors would perceive such an investment in the flagging rhythm genre.

"We're still out of favor," Riccitiello said. "Moves that look like I'm doubling down on yesterday would make it harder still to convince investors that tomorrow is the Promised Land."

After peaking at $1.66 billion in US retail sales over 2008, rhythm game sales deteriorated to $876 million in 2009. This year is shaping up even worse for the genre, totaling just $158 million through September.

EA's most recent acquisitions have been in upwardly trending areas, as the company purchased social game developer Playfish just over a year ago and iOS publisher Chillingo last month. As for Harmonix, Riccitiello suggested that someone would take a chance on picking up the studio.

"I'm sure some smart investor will buy the business feeling that they can catch a falling knife," Riccitiello said, "but more people have been cut trying to catch falling knives than have benefitted from getting the timing exactly right."

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Discussion

90 comments
gamerpipe
gamerpipe

@Animatronic64 , I said recently. and I had need for speed world, and some lame incomplete sport games in mind.

First_Karman
First_Karman

Harmonix and investors need to learn to separate the statistics of their game sales, their peripheral revenue, and their DLC microtransactions. With every new iteration of the game, their DLC earnings drop and their peripherals display only short term surges. Guess what? Consumers love microtransaction models when the platform stays consistent. Just integrate peripheral support in updates and leave all the ROCK BAND #whatever labels behind. People hate paying 60 bucks for the 12 songs they really want to play, when it's a necessary step before buying 200 bucks in peripherals. By charging the customer twice, you're making them think twice.

killlo
killlo

Hey I think this could help me dance maybe? I have never dance with anybody or to any song not even alone, I just can't bring my self to dance >.

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

@riarases I thought they were in development of another Old Republic. I guess they haven't considered finishing that series yet. EA has few games I really like but I did find Dragon Age 2 fun, well for me atleast.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

Another casualty with Activision's name written all over it. Let's just hope the next CEO isn't as much of a dbag as Kotick.

paulc420
paulc420

Good thinking EA, dont try to revolutionize another rythm game. Just keep pumping out STALE sport games, year after year, and abusing the NEED for SPEED franchise. Hot pursuit is exactly like Burnout paradise.

riariases
riariases

@Wolflink001 EA is like the biggest company in gaming. They cover every genre. FPS, RPG, Racing, Sports, The Sims(its own little genre) and everything else. No one could possibly buy out EA. Its more likely they would buy out everyone else before that. And seriously, whats with all the crap they've been releasing? Dragon Age and the Sims 3 were their only good releases for a while. I think a new Star Wars: Knights of the Old Replublic is far due.

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

If only someone would buy out EA. Maybe we have some better games that are less lame?

Ethelwulfx
Ethelwulfx

And not to mention Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA only picks ups lame games man. They all are crap

Animatronic64
Animatronic64

@gamerpipe Yeah, EA just loves to take interest in really lame games like Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 2, Crysis 2, and Dragon Age 2. Really lame. I couldn't possible imagine why anyone would want to play them. *sarcasm*

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

I'm surprised since recently EA only interested in lame games.

SoulReaper133
SoulReaper133

This is only because they have released more than 1 a year for a good few years now, and there's not really any reason to buy them all. They should have stuck with one game and released everything as DLC for it. I personally don't want to have to spend £40 just so I can play one song that I like off the next games, why shouldn't I be able to just download it.

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

I'd say just stop making these kinds of games for about 7-8 years and then bring em back, they would sell like hot cakes again.

Jayut
Jayut

How come? previous news

solidsnakedude1
solidsnakedude1

@MERGATROYDER Just look at the sales of Warrors of Rock, it already has XD

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

I'm hoping this genre of simulation instruments comes to end soon.

dicegamer
dicegamer

i think EA sure stick with being EA the same company that made groundbreaking titles and let harmonix be lol

DMLSLAT
DMLSLAT

Harmonix is talented, but the simple fact is that the market is sick of rhythm games. This is more Activision's fault than there's, too, which is the sad thing. I hope they turn their talent in another directio, honestly. Then companies would either be willing to buy them or work with them.

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

Harmonix FTW....they are one of my favorite developers along with Bungie and Bioware....Rock Band 3 is the greatest music game ever and guitar hero can give their cedit to Harmonix for making that franchise the mega-grossing series it is

Little_Socrates
Little_Socrates

Harsh, but it's all true. I think the bigger problem is that Rock Band 3 pretty much perfected the genre, and it's STILL a genre that nobody really is getting excited about anymore. My friends have enjoyed the keyboard (except for one, who insists the interface for it is completely unintuitive,) but they'd all (rather untraditionally) prefer to play more Blops. I think the only places that make sense in buying Harmonix are developers who're hungry for names, as they mentioned on the Bombcast. Places like Disney Interactive, Zenimax, and even Microsoft Games make sense. Activision or Konami might also pick them up just to end the licensing battles, but again, the genre has flagged so much that this move seems unlikely.

Nodashi
Nodashi

They always knew this kind of games, as all casual games, would burn bright and fast. That's the nature of all things casual. People like new toys, then move on. They don`t feel like GAMES are part of their lives, any new toy is good enought. Same for the nintendo Wii. And that's why us gamers, even with lower numbers, still have SOME attention from the game industry. We are reliable, we`ll buy games now, tomorrow, 10 years from now.

nparks
nparks

Music/rythm gaming has a future, but it has to evolve. DDR used to be the biggest thing on the market. It faded away when GH and RB took the scene. Now that instrumental gaming is in decline, something different needs to step up, pun intended. The new breed of motion controlled dance games may just be the new fad for the genre.

91210user
91210user

Why are people even thinking that EA were going to buy them in the first place? A company as big and respectable as Viacom drops a team and it makes front page news, you know other biggers company would just walk by. Harmonix is just a one-trick pony.

swmeek
swmeek

They say this now but will probably end up changing their minds.

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

I am a little disappointed by this news as it could have been a good move to combat Activision, but also understand their apprehension. It would probably be a good move on Microsoft's part to put in a bid on Harmonix. It would be beneficial to Harmonix as they would cut development costs as they would only have to worry about a single platform, which in itself would make the developer more profitable. They would also have Microsoft's deep pockets to fund new projects. It would be beneficial to Microsoft as they would have another talented developer that can actually make good use of Kinect and they would have another selling point over the PS3 and Wii with the exclusivity of the best band based rhythm game. But the most important thing is that Activision does not acquire them again! The best scenario would be if they could go independent as Bungie did, but Harmonix doesn't have the clout at the moment and I doubt the cash to buy their independence. Microsoft, Ubisoft, or Bethesda please step up to the plate! Now I expect a few thumbs down from the SONY and Nintendo fanboys for suggesting it would be a good move for Microsoft.

ThAdEa82
ThAdEa82

Its true, rockband is a relic. The dance stuff has potential of getting more girls into gaming though

THE-ZOZ
THE-ZOZ

HMX is one of my top 3 developers, i just don`t understand why Viacom wanna sell this studio!

Daian
Daian

#lazycomplife What invasive software? I think u should look at Ubisoft that put all those abusive DRMs in their PC games lately and postpone PC versions for months. And how did they ruin ME2? They made the action go faster and smoother, they took out those identical planet exploration missions, basically they fixed most of the things that didn't work exactly right in the first. Hate to brake this to you but most people, whether they're regular gamers or critics, think ME2 was better than the first. :P PS : EA isn't dumb for not buying Harmonix, it's being cautious. There's a reason why Viacom is selling them , rhythm games aren't selling well any more.It's that simple, obviously that makes to much sense for some people...

EvilGamerD
EvilGamerD

I don't think EA has made any musical games so they wouldn't be interested in harmonix.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

@Nexus_Omega Yeah you're totally right about EA ruining games. Like how they totally ruined Mass Effect 2. Let me spell it out for you: PUBLISHER (EA, Activision) > DEVELOPER (BioWare, Treyarch, Bungie) Developer need money and marketing. Publisher have money and marketing. EA did ruin PC games with that invasive software they released with Spore and Crysis. They still supply money to developers that make pretty darn good games.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

Harmonix = Great programmers, great ideas, superb product. They don't have to make only rhythm games.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

But Harmonix still has so much potential. Come on guys, re-release Frequency or Amplitude (kind of like you did with Rock Band Unplugged). Lets see some of the classic rhythm action puzzle games make it to the fore once again. Knock Rock Band on the head for awhile. Lets get another Bust-a-Groove, Gitaroo Man or Mad Maestro (I'm well aware Harmonix had nothing to do with these titles, but given their obvious talent with the Rhythm game genre they surely know how to make a decent title in the same vein).

thedigitals
thedigitals

I think the music genre is dying because there really isn't much to add or anywhere to go.. it's a novelty and once you get it out of your system you move on to playing regular games again. I used to think it was weird to see all the people on craigslist selling their Rock Band/Guitar Hero gear for so cheap, but a few months after buying a complete drum and 3 guitar set for $20 I was ready to unload them for dirt cheap as well I'm sure the music genre can survive as a smaller niche type thing, but imo they should just release a cheaply priced game and then profit off song download updates (as they already do) and other dlc. Releasing a music game every 3 months or even every other year is simply too much

blaqphantom
blaqphantom

just imagine if MS bought HMX and made it only make 360 exclusive games. Oh the horror!

surrealme
surrealme

I never bought into the rhythm genre because the games with the peripherals are pretty expensive for something I didn't think would keep me interested for very long, but the forthcoming Real Guitar controller changes everything. Instead of just pattern button mashing I can actually learn actual guitar skills? Now that's something worth spending the money on. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way and if the guitar isn't too crazy expensive it may just revitalize the genre.

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

I love Rock Band and Dance Central is probably the best use of the Kinect we'll ever see. Harmonix always shows passion in their work, from the fun and "accurate" charts, coming through on their promise of new music weekly (without loss of quality to boot), and they listen to their fans/customers and release a new iteration only when they have a lot to improve/add. I have no doubt that Harmonix will be able to remain profitable. That being said, I think EA made the right move here. While Harmonix is still able to make money, they (like @Oni said) are a one-trick pony. It doesn't matter how great the games are business-wise if the great games are all in a genre that is trending downwards. Will Harmonix go out of business? I think not. Are they a developer-to-buy? No. Harmonix needs to go independent (with their DLC and development), and stick with EA's Partners program for distributing their major releases.

Trogeton
Trogeton

harmonix is all about trying to be better than the rest they are not worried about making anything better at all they just make something and just keep adding to that one thing

otanikun
otanikun

Well had they bought Harmonix they could have saved a great game series, next thing you know Activision will own them too and drive Rock Band into the ground like Guitar Hero.

Wylen0
Wylen0

If harmonix wants to get outa this rut i have a suggestion, Banjo hero just saying >.>

anwar1998
anwar1998

@Nexus_Omega : true,they make PES look better than FIFA all of the sudden :cry:

toddx77
toddx77

@daviwinn That is exactly what the music genere could use. We have singing, dancing, guitars, drums, keyboard, and dj games but really nothing that combines them. If there was a game that acted as a dance, signing, insturments, and maybe dj could really start something new. Just think of a game where someone plays the guitar, someone sings, and someone dances and all have to do good to keep the game going.

HaloPimp978
HaloPimp978

As long as Activision doesen't buy them everybody will be happy.

daviwinn
daviwinn

If Harmonix were to create a game that combined Dance Central with Rockband they'd be rolling in the dough.

Nexus_Omega
Nexus_Omega

I'm glad EA isn't interested. EA ruins good games.

glennvolio
glennvolio

What are the odds of Harmonix going solo?