In the past two months Harmonix has released Rock Band 3 and Dance Central. Both music games won rapt reviews for their innovative features, but apparently that wasn't enough for parent company Viacom.
Embedded in its third-quarter financial report, issued today, Viacom announced its net income plummeted from $463 million to $189 million and that it plans to sell Harmonix. Further, the Boston-area developer will be henceforth known as a "discontinued operation." Unfortunately, the company did not provide further specifics as to the rationale behind selling Harmonix.
According to a post on the official Rock Band forums by Harmonix's community manager, Viacom's announcement "does not affect the ongoing work at the studio as we continue to support our existing franchises, Rock Band and Dance Central." According to Harmonix, although Viacom is currently engaged in discussions with multiple buyers, it will continue to support the studio.
Once a more financially successful genre, the music game field has since largely fallen by the wayside. September's Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock struck a sour note at retail, selling under 100,000 copies, and analysts are reassessing their outlooks based on the genre's downward trend.
Viacom is one of the largest media conglomerates on the planet. Its main ties are attached to film and television, where it owns properties like Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, and MTV.