epic gamesthe North Carolina company that made the online shooter “Fortnite” one of the most popular video games in the world, has acquired Harmonix music systems of Boston, creator of the hit music game franchises “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.”
Financial details of the transaction were not released and the companies declined to comment. But this is the second round for Harmonix in terms of being acquired by a bigger player. In 2006, media giant Viacom paid $175 million to buy Harmonix, followed by more than that in bonuses after a court battle.
At the time, the company was enjoying the massive success of “Guitar Hero,” a game in which players pressed buttons on simulated plastic guitars to simulate soaring guitar solos from famous rock songs. The game has sold millions of copies. So did Harmonix’s follow-up title “Rock Band”, which had a group of players using simulated guitars, keyboards, and drums to form musical ensembles. This series has generated over $1 billion in sales.
But in 2010, the music game market collapsed. That year, Viacom sold Harmonix to a group of investors that included private equity and company co-founder Alex Rigopulos. Since then, the company has enjoyed modest success with a dance game, “Dance Central,” while a musical game based on Walt Disney’s classic music film “Fantasia” failed to find an audience.
In recent years, Harmonix has released a number of virtual reality games, such as the music-based target shooting game “Audica”. In its Fuser 2020 game, players become DJs at a big dance party, mixing up beats and melodies from popular songs and scoring points for the quality of their music mixes. Additionally, Harmonix continues to support loyal “Rock Band” fans with downloadable packages of new music.
According to a statement from Epic Games, Harmonix will continue to support its existing product line.
But its main focus will be to create enhanced music experiences for “Fortnite” players. In this popular game, players parachute onto an island full of hiding places, tools and weapons, then battle it out until only one person or team survives. The internet game can be played for free, but players often spend considerable sums on “V-Bucks” which allow them to purchase special tools, abilities and costumes. “Fortnite” is hugely popular around the world, with around 350 million registered players.
On its website, Harmonix said it will “work with Epic to once again defy expectations as we bring our unique brand of musical gaming experiences to the Metaverse, and we couldn’t be more excited.”