Harmonix Music Systems, which recently had a bargain-basement parting-of-ways with MTV Games, has been forced to reduce its headcount.

Half a decade ago, Harmonix was on top of the world with the hugely successful Guitar Hero franchise, which it then evolved into the hit Rock Band series following its Activision-catalyzed split from RedOctane. At the time, nobody would have predicted that only a few years later the studio would be abandoned by its owner and forced to lay off staff, yet that’s exactly the situation the studio finds itself in.

“Harmonix is restructuring our organization to bring it into alignment with our current product development plans. Unfortunately, this means reducing the number of full-time staff,” the company said in a statement sent to Joystiq. “We sincerely appreciate the work of each and every one of these employees. Harmonix is working to ensure that those affected are well taken care of as we make this change.”

One of the problems facing Harmonix, however, may be that aside from an unnamed project for the Nintendo DS, nobody really knows what its plans are, which might make it difficult to find funding to keep the headcount up. The company didn’t mention specific numbers but Joystiq said that 12 to 15 percent of the studio’s roughly 240 employees have been let go.

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