Viacom to sell off Rock Band and Guitar Hero game creator

12 Nov 2010

US media giant Viacom, which is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against YouTube, is planning to sell the game developer behind Rock Band and Guitar Hero, Harmonix.

When they debuted, Rock Band and Guitar Hero played a fundamental role in moving console gaming from a shoot ‘em up novelty pursuit to something all of the family could play a part in. You could play guitar solos or expand your group to include guitar, drums, bass and vocals.

The games were created in collaboration with MTV and distributed by Electronic Arts.

However, it has emerged that sales of these games, which include Rock Band 1, 2 and 3, as well as band-specific titles like The Beatles and Green Day, have been in free fall.

According to reports, Harmonix has turned into a US$300m liability for Viacom.

The latest game, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock shifted only 86,000 copies in its first week. Compare this with new releases like Call of Duty: Black Ops, which shifted 5.6 million copies in just one day and grossed US$360m.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years