Harmonix hit with layoffs

Rock Band studio said to suffer 12-15% staff reduction as part of restructuring efforts behind "current product development plans."

Earlier this morning, MTV Games confirmed for GameSpot that it had indeed ceased its publishing operations, even if the label as an entity would remain a bit longer. Times are also tough for MTV's once-flagship studio, as Joystiq reports today that Harmonix has laid off an unconfirmed number of employees.

Harmonix's recent performance has been a bit flat.

"Harmonix is restructuring our organization to bring it into alignment with our current product development plans," the studio said in a statement also sent to GameSpot. "Unfortunately, this means reducing the number of full-time staff. We sincerely appreciate the work of each and every one of these employees. Harmonix is working to ensure that those affected are well taken care of as we make this change."

According to Joystiq's sources, the layoffs have affected approximately 12 to 15 percent of Harmonix's 240 employees. The studio's development pipeline is said to be unaffected by the cuts. Beyond additional downloadable content for the Rock Band platform and the Kinect-enabled Dance Central, the studio is also at work on an as-yet-unnamed 3DS title. The studio's last round of layoffs came in December 2009, when it cut 39 positions from its payroll.

In January, Harmonix was sold off to a private holding company affiliated with New York-based investment firm Columbus Nova. Though the exact value of the deal was not disclosed, the holding company reportedly assumed all of Harmonix's liabilities--reportedly valued at $100 million--and MTV Games parent company Viacom was afforded a $50 million tax write-off.

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46 comments
jeremiah06
jeremiah06

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

FireboltDS
FireboltDS

I hope there weren't any of the creative minds of Harmonix inside that bunch of fired people

chapnzaba
chapnzaba

@Mad_Kripz That's not in any way close to Guitar Hero. Firstly, RB: Unplugged and Mobile (why would you even count that??) are hand held games... and all songs in any Rock Band game are transferable to the main game (aside from TB:RB). The same cannot be said for Guitar Hero, as each one is a stand alone title almost entirely. And every sequel Rock Band had, (1,2,3) had many, many new features and improvements that definitely validated a sequel. Rock Band 3 was in development for 2 years. So, no, Rock Band as a series is NOT milkage. However, Guitar Hero's milking DID hurt it.

lister82
lister82

Well, news for Harmonix is getting worse and worse. Rock Band was the only "Music Simulator" I liked that had some more thought put into it than other games of it's genre.

Master_Turismo
Master_Turismo

This company has been having bad luck it seems like.

NDegree
NDegree

This is really sad news. Hay Gamespot Is Alex Navarro still working for Harmonix. He's a great guy & I really missed his reviews. I hope he's not in one of these people.

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

@chapnzaba idunno.... Rock Band (2007) Rock Band 2 (2008 ) Rock Band Unplugged (2009) The Beatles: Rock Band (2009) Lego Rock Band (2009) Rock Band: Mobile (2009) Green Day: Rock Band (2010) Rock Band 3 (2010)

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

Only music related game I want is Def Jam fighting.

Kajiuro
Kajiuro

@VegasAceVII Couldn't have said it any better myself.

cajunstrike
cajunstrike

Agreed. It bears repeating: One should have been wary when sales of The Beatles version were described by the publisher as being 'strong' with no actual sales figures provided.

imbusydoctorwho
imbusydoctorwho

Rock band 3 was miles better then some of the Guitar hero games. With the Beatles RB and Green Day Harmonix really did some great band only games with loads of unlockables. I prefer Rock Band to Guitar Hero such a shame to see Harmonix have to suffer. Nobody deserves to loose there jobs especially this company who have made some of the best music games out there.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I honestly think that Harmonix's DLC prices are too damn high, just like my rent! They should sell them in packages as well, and add a download token for us to listen to it off our games, for instance, if I down a pack of 5-10 remixes, these songs become available in the game, I can download them on my PC with a code--they would to find a partner: Zune, iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, EA, etc...

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

Will I still be able to buy Rock Band 3? I was waiting for the real guitar to come out

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

The interwebz iz vicious! People are loosing jobs you... you... people? I think a more appropriate headline would've been "Harmonix Restructuring Because They're Now Privately Held and Layoffs are Just Part of Good Business, Despite the Fact That Those Laid Off Have Lost a Job". I don't think this will impact the COMPANY in a negative fashion, in fact I'm guessing it will only help them in the long run. I feel for those that lost their jobs, and wish them the best but sometimes hard decisions have to be made. Harmonix has done anything but "oversaturate" the market. Every RB release featured upgrades/improvements, most of which were directly connected to fan suggestions. Beatles and Green Day spinoffs were I'm sure stressed by both MTV Games (Hey, why can Guitar Hero release "special" edition games?) and the lockdown of the licenses by the bands. Neversoft/Activision were the ones that released, what was it? 7 "Guitar Hero" branded games in a year and a half? That's more than Harmonix's total Rock Band catalogue.

VegasAceVII
VegasAceVII

It's really just time for these games to go. Sorry to those losing their jobs, but that is what happens when the market becomes so flooded with dozens of beat, dance and singing games. Sales will crumble and jobs will be lost. Good luck to those who have been forced out of the office.

Bas07
Bas07

Whenever this kind of thing about rhythm games comes up in the news, people yell "oversaturation!" It seems to me that the only oversaturation HMX is guilty of is in their DLC releases. There's an awful lot of songs. Relative to the volume, they're probably overpriced. Mainly, I think HMX's demise has more to do with taking their games in the wrong direction. The Beatles game was an expensive diversion. Beautiful to look at but ultimately a big mistake that cost them the attention of their target market. The pro thing is an admirable attempt at innovation but is seriously segregating the player base. On top of that they went and gutted the fun from RB3 by removing World Tour and Score Duel and making online multiplayer a highly painful experience. Rock Band could have had the longevity of CoD. It's a real shame.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

It's a tough market to be successful in. Gamers don't usually play the same game for months on end, unless it's an MMORPG or an FPS that really catches on. The long term success of these games relies too much on DLC, but after the first few months the number of players slowly starts to fall off. Most people aren't going to want to buy every track pack that comes out, and while they might enjoy the content of one band a month on average, most won't be around to see it when one of their favorite bands actually releases something. It's an issue that Harmonix will have to work out to succeed long term.

shadowkiller11
shadowkiller11

People moaning at oversaturation of the market should be aimed at Guitar Hero. Rock Band did milk but majority of successful games do in respectable volumes atleast they evolved the genre if for the niche market.

RavenLoud
RavenLoud

Dang, I should buy RB3 to support them someday. Don't have the money for it now.

The-Longshot
The-Longshot

@linusblue haha, lets hope so. cuz most stuff they pass off as "music" in that genre is the furthest thing from it in the first place. Besides what else did they expect to happen after they feverishly sold out their IP, released the same game for 4 years in a row and over saturated it with their own content as well. hahah.

KDogKool
KDogKool

Good, Rock Band was lame anyway

LinusBlue
LinusBlue

Well thats what happens when a genre gets saturated. Nobody makes any money. The music genre fad is officially dead.

LoserMike
LoserMike

They must diversify into non-music gaming. The music gaming industry reached its' peaked in 2008. After that it went downhill fast.

Kevinis
Kevinis

Poor Harmonix. Here's hoping they recover from this.

Kevinis
Kevinis

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

funsohng
funsohng

These guys probably have the worst luck in this gen....

fetusfart18
fetusfart18

This is happening to the wrong company. It should be Neversoft that's getting the shaft, not the people that actually tried to breathe life into the music genre.

chapnzaba
chapnzaba

@NiteX It appears as though you're thinking of the wrong company. This is Harmonix, not Activision/Neversoft.

Fosambean
Fosambean

Yeah cause shooters haven't been milked... Racing games..... Platform games..... That has nothing to do with it. It just hasn't worked out. I love rock band and I am sad to see it in hard times. Rock band made 5 console games 2 band specific. I enjoyed them all. COD have made plenty more and yes while I have enjoyed them all, arnt they milking a sires with 5-7hour 1 players for £40-50. Does that make all the buyers of that suckers. Even the Black ops online is riddled with bugs. Yet millions buy it. Some work some don't. I just hope Rock band recover.

NiteX
NiteX

Well what do you expect? When you make the exact same games over and over people can only remain suckers for so long. I am shocked that they lasted as long as they did though.

capthappy8p
capthappy8p

its kinda hard to improve on the music type games, i mean my friends and i were content with rockband 1 and that had plenty f DLC songs to keep us going, we saw no need to grab the newer copies and new instruments

Xdz89
Xdz89

Yeah....HMX bought ITSELF Back. An investment firm is helping with all of the licensing and other stuff but they are independently owned again. Hence being bought for $50...Layoffs are expected when your company WAS owned by a massive corp. like Viacom. They just don't have the resources to keep so many people now that once again they are the ones writing the checks. I have always liked HMX and I'm glad that they are out from under Viacom. The music that they had been putting out for DLC was terrible and didn't seem like stuff that they would EVER think to put on Rock Band. Honestly, Miley Cyrus? Spongebob? Lady GaGa? I'll be honest i bought Spongebob for my nephew and niece and LG for my wife and they are fun, but I wouldn't have thought that they would be released if you had told me they were going too 3 Years ago...Just saying...

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

So this means no Rock Band 4. It is unfortunate that people are losing their jobs. Dance Central for the Kinect couldn't save Harmonix. Seems the music genre has run it's course. Milking a genre too much and eventually it will die.

chris9801
chris9801

@Mairusz69 I Know right? Thouse totaly sold, but like it said, MTV Is practcaly closing its doors and Hamonix was sold off for $50. Who knows what they're going to do now (other games?). Heres the link about harmonix being sold off: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6285874.html

finaleve
finaleve

@Sword-Hunter277 Considering those at least 3 of those games don't have deep stories to begin with. But yeah, I agree. I wonder if they were going to make a new version of Amplitude or Frequency...

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

Sucks that people are losing their jobs but their games won't be missed by me.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

RossRichard
RossRichard

Wonder how this affects the weekly updates. Sucks because I preordered the Squier Strat.

Mairusz69
Mairusz69

What happened? Was the "Beatles Rock Band" a bust or something?

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

@ guy under me. Fanboy alert much? No publisher wanted to buy them. Then they got sold for 50 bucks to some independant company. and now they are firing people. its over, rock band won't make them the money they need anymore. Sure they can keep making them, but they really need to make games in different genres...

Sword-Hunter277
Sword-Hunter277

@CyberKlown28: Rock Band and Dance Central are real games. You're just signing HMX off because they're not busting out titles like LoZ, Halo, Killzone, CoD, or Gears. You don't need a deep story and/or character development to have an incredible game

venomdeo
venomdeo

I like Rock band and I am glad this doesn't effect the DLC. I am wondering what the game is for 3DS ,I"m guessing a Rock Band Portable game .

CyberKlown28
CyberKlown28

Rock Band didn't get milked, music was just a flash in the pan genre. Maybe Harmonix should try real games instead. =/

LOXO7
LOXO7

Ah the milk from music games is running dry.