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> Harmonix Music Systems

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Harmonix Music Systems (or simply Harmonix) is a video game development company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States. They are known for their many music video games.

Harmonix is perhaps best known as the developer of Rock Band as well as the original developer of the old Guitar Hero series before development moved to Neversoft.

Contents

History

Harmonix was founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy who met while attending MIT.[1] The company was built on the premise that the experience of performing music could become accessible to those who would otherwise have trouble learning a traditional instrument.

The company's earliest product was The Axe: Titans of Classic Rock on PC CD-ROM. The Axe enabled consumers to easily perform unique instrumental solos by using a PC joystick. Harmonix then designed "CamJam", which performed similar functions, this time using simple body gestures to trigger music sequences.[1] CamJam was utilized at Disney theme parks.[2]

In 1997, the Harmonix team focused on Japan. There, the first music video games were becoming increasingly popular and successful. These games included PaRappa the Rapper, Beatmania, and Dance Dance Revolution; all of which focused on bringing musical experiences to gamers through simple, understandable interfaces commonly found in games. It was these games that inspired Harmonix to develop its first music video game, FreQuency, which began development in 1999.[1][3]

To develop FreQuency, Rigopulos and Egozy formed a larger team, finding many of their new employees to be musicians.[3] Featuring songs by a number of underground electronica artists, FreQuency allowed players to perform and remix a variety of music. The game was backed by SCEA Vice President of Product Development, Shuhei Yoshida. Released in 2001 on the PlayStation 2, FreQuency was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards,[4] though it failed to become a mainstream success. Harmonix developed the a sequel to FreQuency, Amplitude, released in 2003. Several changes were made from its predecessor to broaden the game's appeal, from gameplay tweaks to a more mainstream soundtrack. And again, Amplitude achieved awards, critical praise,[5] and a small cult following, but it was not a financial hit.[1]

After Amplitude, Harmonix teamed up with Konami to create the Karaoke Revolution franchise. Konami, known for their Bemani line of music games, published the Karaoke Revolution titles, of which Harmonix developed and released three "volumes" between 2003 and 2004.

Also in 2004, Sony Computer Entertainment released the Harmonix project EyeToy: AntiGrav. A departure from music games, the title used the PlayStation 2 EyeToy camera peripheral to enable one's body to perform as a controller for a futuristic extreme sports game.

In 2005, publisher RedOctane released the Harmonix-developed game Guitar Hero. The game features similar gameplay elements to FreQuency and Amplitude, also owing some inspiration from Konami's own guitar-based video game series GuitarFreaks. Like GuitarFreaks, Guitar Hero uses a guitar-shaped controller designed uniquely for the game. Specifically, the Guitar Hero controller was designed with five color-coded "fret" buttons and a "strum bar". Guitar Hero became largely successful, both critically and commercially, resulting in the well-received 2006 sequel Guitar Hero II, also developed by Harmonix.[6]

In September 2006, MTV Networks, a division of media conglomerate Viacom, announced that it was acquiring Harmonix on behalf of MTV for $175 million.[7] Harmonix's last Guitar Hero game for RedOctane, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, was released in July 2007, thus fulfilling their contractual obligations with the publisher.

Harmonix released Rock Band in November 2007. As Harmonix's first game as a part of MTV, Rock Band expanded upon the design of Guitar Hero by incorporating three different peripherals: guitar/bass, microphone, and drums. Harmonix continued to support the game after its initial release by offering a variety of downloadable songs to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players on a weekly basis. As of December, 2008, over 500 songs have been made available as downloadable content, with over 28 million songs sold.[8][9] Rock Band 2, released on the PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360 in 2008, features improved instrument peripherals and updated features while still being compatible with all original Rock Band peripherals and downloadable songs.[9]

Template:Anchor In October 2008, Harmonix, along with MTV Games, announced an exclusive agreement with Apple Corps, Ltd. to produce a standalone title based on the Rock Band premise and featuring the music of The Beatles, to be released late in 2009. The unnamed game will feature a visual and musical history of the Beatles, and will include 45 songs from their 1962-69 tenure with EMI, using United Kingdom-released versions of their albums Please Please Me through Abbey Road.[10] The developers have worked with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to gain input on the game, and are using Giles Martin, son of Sir George Martin who produced most of the Beatles albums, as music director for the game.[11] Harmonix stated, despite building on the Rock Band gameplay, this will not be a Rock Band branded title, and that the songs will not be available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series.[12] The agreement has been in discussion for more than 17 months.[13]

In November 2008, Viacom paid Harmonix a $300 million bonus as part of the terms of the company's 2006 acquisition. The previous quarter's bonus was $150 million.[14]

Employee bands

Due to the nature of titles developed by Harmonix, a large percentage of staff members are well-known in the Boston and US music scene. These include:

  • Kasson Crooker and Sean Roche, members of the band Freezepop.
  • Jason Kendall, lead singer of the band The Amazing Crowns.
  • Ben Carr, manager, and official bosstone of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Daniel Sussman, member of The Acro-Brats.
  • Eric Brosius, Terri Brosius and Greg LoPiccolo, former members of Tribe.
  • Bryn Bennett, co-founder and lead guitarist in Bang Camaro
  • Keith Smith, singer/ guitarist for Anarchy Club, and former singer for C60.
  • Dan Schmidt, vocalist and guitarist in Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives.
  • Helen McWilliams, Elena Siegman and 'Leanne', members of Vagiant.
  • Izzy "Sparks" Maxwell, member of Count Zero, Anarchy Club and Death of the Cool.
  • Naoko Takamoto, also known as Plural and a member of That Handsome Devil.
  • Ryan Lesser, Jason Kendall, Brian Gibson and Paul Lyons, members of Megasus.
  • Brian Gibson of Lightning Bolt and Megasus.
  • Phil Beaudreau and Johannes "Rash" Raasina, members of the band Shaimus.
  • Ryan Lesser, Dare Matheson, Matt Gilpin, and Jason Warburg, members of The Gert Jonnys.
  • Dan Teasdale, Chris Foster, Mike Verrette and Kelly Scott, members of Speck.
  • Pete Maguire, is a member of inter:sect and Death of the Cool.
  • Geoff Pitsch, Dan Brakeley, Devon Newsom, and John Eskew, members of Father Octopus.
  • Scott Sinclair, member of the Model Sons.
  • Aaron DeMuth, member of Libyans.
  • Jeff Allen, part of Breaking Wheel (Artillery in Guitar Hero) and Death Of The Cool
  • Adam Arrigo, John Drake, Jon Carter, Matt Boch and Matthew Levitt, members of Blanks. and The Main Drag [15][16]
  • Kurt Davis, frontman for The Konks
  • Chris Lynch, member of Choo Choo la Rouge
  • Dave Plante, member of Overboard
  • Adam Cardoza, co-vocalist and drummer for DnA's Evolution
  • Jason Arnone, former member of You Shriek
  • Alex Navarro, former member of Suburban All-stars


Gameography

Patents portfolio

Harmonix has assembled a modest IP portfolio, which includes:

References

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External links

Template:MTV Networks Template:Viacomes:Harmonix Music Systems it:Harmonix Music Systems pt:Harmonix Music Systems

Discussion
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