What's worth more: A night out at Red Lobster or the studio behind Rock Band?
Viacom put Rock Band developer Harmonix up for sale after determining that console games weren't its bag, and after a week Harmonix was technically able to buy itself. According to an unconfirmed report on All Things Digital, the price paid to snatch Harmonix from Viacom was a scant $49.99.
This might seem like a great price, but the report also says that Harmonix-SBE Holdings LLC, the new owner of Harmonix and affiliate of investment management company Columbus Nova, had to assume a ton of debt and responsibility. Harmonix-SBE Holdings is also now the proud owner of liabilities such as Harmonix's music rights fees and its lots of unsold games and music peripherals.
In addition to the $50, Viacom is reportedly is able to claim $150 million in tax benefits. Viacom, Columbus Nova, and Harmonix haven't commented on the truth of the low number, but it does make sense considering the recent decline in the music peripheral genre.
Call me crazy, but even by assuming an undisclosed amount of debt I think Columbus Nova is set up to reap some potentially strong benefits by bankrolling Harmonix. The decline of Rock Band sales wasn't due to a lack of quality in the series, and Harmonix's Kinect launch title Dance Central is a hit with consumers and critics. Harmonix still owns both of the properties and is said to have new ideas in the works for the future. Harmonix might be at a low right now, but it has plenty of potential to snap back.
Update: Harmonix's official statement to The Escapist reads: "Regarding that story, we're not commenting. Thanks for asking though!" It doesn't look like we'll be able to get confirmation.