Viacom’s MTV Networks has announced an agreement to acquire game maker Harmonix for $175 million in cash. Harmonix wasfounded in 1995 in Cambridge, Massachusetts with the idea of finding ways for non-musicians to have fun making music; the company shot into the industry spotlight with its rock guitar simulation gameGuitar Hero, published by RedOctane and Activision, which ships for Playstation 2 with a unique guitar-shaped game controller. GuitarHero II is scheduled to ship later this year.
"The acquisition of Harmonix will deepen MTV’s connection to its audience via on-line, mobile and console music gaming, and expand the relationship with both labels and artists through the creation of games based on classic songs as well as future album releases," said Christina Norman, President, MTV. "Harmonix’s technology allows everyone to pursue their rock and roll fantasies, even people like me, with more musical ambition than actual talent."
(OK, speaking as a long-time professional musician, lack of actual talent never kept anyone out of the rock and roll business.)
Harmonix also published the games Frequency and Amplitude in 2001 and 20033 respectively, and develops the Karaoke Revolution series which turns bad singing into…well, a competitive game.
MTV and Harmonix have been partners since 2005 in a deal which saw Guitar Hero promoted across a wide range of MTV promotions, programming, and competitions.