Harmonix poised to post company-best profits

COO Florian Hunziker says rhythm-game studio's revenues will hit $100 million in 2011, thanks to 2.5-million-unit-selling Dance Central.

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Rock Band may need a "creative reinterpretation," but the studio behind that franchise is clearly doing something right. Some 12 months after being dumped by media megacorp Viacom, Harmonix is on track to post its most profitable year to date.

Harmonix got its groove back with Dance Central.
Harmonix got its groove back with Dance Central.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Harmonix COO Florian Hunziker said that the studio expects 2011 revenues to come in around $100 million. And though he didn't offer specific net income figures, Hunziker did tell Bloomberg that 2011 will also be the most profitable for the company in its history.

The turnaround for Harmonix is a dramatic one. The studio, which created the Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central franchises, led the rhythm-game craze that peaked in 2008 with industry-wide revenues of about $2 billion. However, that craze proved short-lived, as revenues had dropped to $900 million by 2009, according to Bloomberg, and still further in 2010 and 2011.

Harmonix has reversed its fortunes thanks to the rise of dance-based rhythm games such as Dance Central. That title, which has now sold more than 2.5 million copies, is the second-best-selling game for Microsoft's motion-based Xbox 360 add-on Kinect, behind Kinect Sports.

Hunziker also told Bloomberg that Dance Central's paid downloads have been a boon for the company, thanks to a broader pool of music genres that can be adapted for the game. Including Rock Band, Harmonix has sold some 100 million songs as paid DLC since 2006.

Paid DLC has also become more lucrative, now that Harmonix is in less competition with the Activision-owned Guitar Hero franchise. Earlier this year, Activision closed its Guitar Hero division and put the franchise on hiatus.

Hunziker also said that Harmonix does not expect to continue relying on just Dance Central to bolster the company. Bloomberg reports that Harmonix is currently developing new music games that deviate from the Rock Band and Dance Central formulas. Hunziker noted that should these new properties take off, the company expects profits to double again over the next few years.

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