Unhappy Viacom to sell off Harmonix

Just four years after it bought the studio for an amazing $175m, Viacom has said it wants to sell off music game studio Harmonix.

The corporate parent that owns the likes of MTV and Paramount, said today in an earnings statement that it had seen a third-quarter dip in earnings.

This has seemingly forced it to ditch the outfit, and expects a $299 million loss from ‘discontinued operations’.

Harmonix created the Guitar Hero franchise in 2005, but was bought by Viacom just a year later and integrated into the MTV Games business after Activision bought Guitar Hero publisher Red Octane.

Since then Harmonix has worked on a GH rival, Rock Band, and just released Kinect dance game Dance Central.

It’s not yet clear if just Harmonix or the Rock Band franchise is up for sale as well – or what this means for MTV Games, which built its increasingly prominent games division around the studio and its games.

Viacom has had a rollercoaster ride financially with Harmonix.

After buying the studio in 2006, it earlier this year asked for a refund of the $150m 2007 earnout payment given to the studio’s founders.

Rock Band has generated over a $1bn in revenue for Viacom, but sales in the music game genre have slowed significantly in the recent years.

Rock Band 3 came out late last month, and even though it was dubbed by many as one of the best games in its genre, early sales figures were modest at best.

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