Epic Games, the maker of hit video game Fortnite and Unreal Engine, has acquired Harmonix, creator of the popular Rock Band and Dance Central franchises for an undisclosed sum.
The buyout of the Boston-based music-related game studio Harmonix follows a period of successful fraternization with the music industry for Epic.
Epic’s flagship game Fortnite has served as a well-attended virtual performance and video premiere space for a number of major stars, while its Unreal Engine is used as the foundation for 3D music videos created by Sony Music‘s Immersive Music Studios.
However, Epic’s latest music move could be its most ambitious yet.
Epic Games – which has backed by Sony Corp and carries a $28 billion+ valuation – says that it will collaborate closely with Harmonix “to develop musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite” and that Harmonix will continue to support existing titles including Rock Band 4.
Furthermore, Epic claims that, as it works “to build the metaverse”, the Harmonix team’s “expertise is needed to reimagine how music is experienced, created and distributed”.
Harmonix was founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy and was bought by Viacom in 2006 for $175 million.
Viacom sold Harmonix four years later to Harmonix-SBE Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Columbus Nova, LLC.
Launched in 2007, the firm’s Rockband franchise exceeded a billion dollars in revenues by 2009 and secured a major coup with the development and release of The Beatles: Rock Band game, described by The New York Times at the time as “the most important video game yet made”.
Other Harmonix properties include music-mixing game DROPMIX developed in collaboration with Hasbro, and The Dance Central franchise, which Harmonix says “set the standard for full-body motion gaming, with best in class detection and real-time feedback”.
So far, nothing has been shared by either Epic or Harmonix about specific projects they’re working on, but Harmonix says that it will work with Epic to “challenge expectations as we bring our unique brand of musical gaming experiences to the Metaverse”.
Added Harmonix in a statement: “Over the last 26 years we have pushed ourselves to redefine how people experience and interact with music. From the earliest days of The Axe to Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, our VR titles, FUSER, and everything in between, we have aspired to redefine what a music game can be.”
“Harmonix has always aspired to create the world’s most beloved interactive music experiences, and by joining Epic we will be able to do this at scale.”
Alex Rigopulos, Harmonix
Alex Rigopulos, Co-Founder and Chairman at Harmonix, said: “Harmonix has always aspired to create the world’s most beloved interactive music experiences, and by joining Epic we will be able to do this at scale.
“Together we will push the creative boundaries of what’s possible and invent new ways for our players to make, perform and share music.”
“Music is already bringing millions of people together in Fortnite, from our emotes to global concerts and events.”
Alain Tascan, Epic Games
Alain Tascan, Vice President of Game Development at Epic Games, added: “Music is already bringing millions of people together in Fortnite, from our emotes to global concerts and events.
“Together with the Harmonix team we will transform how players experience music, going from passive listeners to active participants.”
Fortnite counted over 350 million registered players as of May 2020.
In September, Epic joined a $7m funding round for music licensing platform Lickd.Music Business Worldwide