The music game company Harmonix announced that it has recently laid off 39 workers.
The Boston-based Harmonix, maker of Rock Band, said that laying off 13% of its workforce was unrelated to the recent publicity claiming that music games have plateaued. The company pointed to The Beatles: Rock Band, which has sold 1 million copies since its release on 9/9/09, and said that it is happy with current forecasts for its games. The layoffs were mainly in the QA department, as well as administrative positions, and represent a shift in business practice as opposed to downsizing.
A representative from Harmonix said, "This was a process and business decision unrelated to the performance of any MTV Games/Harmonix product. MTV Games and Harmonix are very pleased with the sales of our Rock Band titles and we expect to continue to see strong sales throughout the holidays across all of our titles."
"Additionally, those 39 affected (which roughly represented about 13 percent of the staff) were primarily from the QA dept," he went on. "Harmonix staffed up its QA department and support positions based on the 2009 worldwide release schedule. At this time, Harmonix will shift to a combination of temporary/part time help, outsourcing and support from external partners (which is in line with how other game developers manage their QA departments)."
The explanation sounds plausible as Harmonix has said that Rock Band is more of a platform than a game and streamlining the Quality Assurance department makes sense. It is undeniable though that the supply of money-hats made from music games in the past has shriveled up in 2009 so the company cannot be as wasteful in its spending as it might have been in the past.
It just sucks to hear about anyone losing their job, especially in December. "Hey honey, you know that awesome job I had playing games for a living? Let me put it this way, the kids aren't getting The Beatles: Rock Band Limited Edition for Christmas this year."
Heartbreaking. My condolences truly go out to the families of anyone effected by these layoffs.