Guitar Hero and Rock Band creators on making games with strong sales concepts

Harmonix: ‘Making a fun game just isn’t enough to be successful’

Your carefully crafted game design is not enough to guarantee sales success, Rock Band and Guitar Hero developer Harmonix has said in a brief interview with Newsweek.

The studio has been profiled in the most recent issue of the current affairs magazine, expressing its surprise at the fast growth of Guitar Hero’s popularity after a few ‘wilderness years’ which saw the firm create the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Frequency and Amplitude.

"Our original mission statement was to bring the joy of music making to everyone out there in the world who may not necessarily have all the experience that comes from having learned a real musical instrument," says co-founder Eran Egozy. "We had no idea that it would become this huge."

"It was a really hard lesson for us to realize that making a fun game just isn’t enough for a game developer," adds co-founder Alex Rigopulos, on the studio’s earlier games. "We had to start thinking about making games that were easier to sell."

The result was the partnership with peripherals firm Red Octane to produce Guitar Hero. Since then Harmonix has been acquired by MTV, working with EA on peripheral-focused game Rock Band, and Red Octane was bought by Activision.

Harmonix has also recently completed work on an iPod title, Phase, and has been working closely with well known musicians and music labels since joining the MTV family in 2006.

Rigopulous added: "A lot of artists who previously wouldn’t touch videogames, they’ve started to see what we’re doing is a legitimate, creative medium for them to allow their fans to connect with their music on a deeper level."

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