Home » General » Since When Has Harmonix Been A Backwards Looking Company? [Update]

Since When Has Harmonix Been A Backwards Looking Company? [Update]

[Update] Seems that Riccitiello more or less agrees with me on this one and he got screwed by some out of context quoting. “Harmonix is at least as responsible as any company on earth for the creation of a genre. There aren’t that many times you can point to that level of innovation,” he told Kotaku.

The news that Viacom was looking for a buyer for Rock Band developer Harmonix was not a total surprise to us given lackluster sales of Rock Band 3, but recent talk concerning the developer has shocked us. We liked Rock Band 3 and every music game made by Harmonix since the days of FreQuency and Amplitude, but a narrative is being created that paints the Massachusetts team in a rather strange light.

The most potent comment of this sort has come from EA’s CEO John Riccitiello speaking to Bloomberg. Here’s what he had to say about the possibility of purchasing the studio from Viacom.

“Moves that look like I’m doubling down on yesterday would make it harder still to convince investors that tomorrow is the Promised Land… I’m sure some smart investor will buy the business feeling that they can catch a falling knife, but more people have been cut trying to catch falling knives than have benefited from getting the timing exactly right.”

Now there is a question here as to whether Riccitiello is talking about buying Harmonix as a whole or simply purchasing the Rock Band brand. With regards to Rock Band, given the slow down in music games across the board, such a statement about “doubling down on yesterday,” makes a certain amount of sense. However, Harmonix has never struck us as a backward looking developer.

In collaboration with Red Octane it was the developer that launched the music boom with the original Guitar Hero, it followed that up by making the first band game in Rock Band including drums and vocals to the mix. With Rock Band 3 it has added keyboards and new levels of challenge with the Pro mode that could have lead to a stepping stone between playing music games and playing music for real. Most recently it released Dance Central for Kinect, widely considered to be the best game released for Microsoft’s peripheral to date.

This is a company that builds games with an innate sense of what is fun. While Guitar Hero felt like it was chasing after gimmicks and classic gaming mechanics to wedge into its formula, Rock Band under Harmonix has evolved it naturally to its ultimate conclusion, making some of the most faithful and compelling music games around. This is a studio that has embraced change. It has embraced innovation. It has embraced challenges.

In my opinion Harmonix still has a great deal to offer to the games industry and could yet surprise us all again with another breakout title and whoever winds up putting some money down for the studio is unlikely to get burned in the process.

[John Riccitiello quote from Bloomberg.com]




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