Harmonix Has High Hopes for Rock Band and Beyond

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Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos says the studio still has faith in the long-term viability of the Rock Band franchise but has some pretty big plans for the motion gaming arena as well.

The music game genre has all but collapsed in recent months. Weak sales of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock led Activision to pull the plug on the entire Guitar Hero franchise, while Rock Band studio Harmonix was sold by parent company Viacom for a pack of smokes and a half-tank of gas after Rock Band 3 tanked. It would seem like a bad time to be a music-focused studio, but Rigopulos has high hopes for the genre and beyond.

In an interview with Edge, he acknowledged that Rock Band 3 sales didn’t meet expectations but said it’s a big game with a lot of life left in it and room to grow with Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero fans. “We have long term plans to support the platform indefinitely. We have some really compelling content to come and we want to nurture the Pro functionality,” he said. “So while the sales were somewhat disappointing, we have a lot of faith in its future potential.”

But beyond the music genre, Rigopulos said the studio has a “high degree of creative energy” focused on motion gaming, which it’s already broken into with the successful release of Dance Central for Kinect. “Historically our focus has been almost exclusively on music games. Dance Central is a bridge from music gaming into motion gaming, we’ve developed both a competency and preoccupation with the creative potential of motion gaming, and it’s safe to say you’ll see a lot more in that domain from Harmonix beyond Dance Central,” he continued. “I think there’s staggering creative potential that’s largely unexplored.”

He also dismissed talk that the studio was in need of “rescuing” once its relationship with Viacom fell apart. “This is an incredible time at Harmonix and it’s incredibly invigorating – it’s a new beginning and a new chapter in our lives,” he said. “We’ve made some very painful adjustments but we’ll get the Rock Band business to a much healthier place, we have an incredible new franchise in Dance Central, and right now there’s just a cauldron of creativity here in terms of new IP. So I guess my point is that, in a certain sense, Harmonix has never been in a better place than it’s in right now.”

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