The lights are on
In a brief statement released this morning, Viacom Inc. announced that it has sold Harmonix Music Systems. The buyer is one Harmonix-SBE Holdings LLC, marked as an affiliate of investment firm Columbus Nova, LLC. The amount of the deal remains undisclosed. In 2006, MTV Games bought Harmonix for $175 million, prior to the debut of the Rock Band Franchise.
"We’re excited to be returning to our roots as an independent and
privately owned studio," said communication manager John Drake in the official Rock Band forums. "As for what it means for you, the DLC schedule
marches on for Rock Band, we will continue our support of previously
released titles and we’re hard at work on some unannounced projects that
we think you’re going to be pumped about."
Viacom announced its intent to sell Harmonix back in November, noting that the decision was part of an exit strategy for it to leave the console gaming business. Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman was quoted as saying “The console games business requires expertise and scale we don’t have.”
Since the announcement in November, speculation that both EA and Activision were interested in the studio circulated. While representatives of both companies had kind words for Harmonix, it became obvious that neither had intent to follow through with an acquisition.
A handful of Harmonix shareholders, including the studio founders, are currently taking legal action against Viacom, alleging that it has failed to payout performance royalties and that it mishandled the Rock Band franchise.