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Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom

Gamasutra has word that a group of former shareholders of developer Harmonix (Rock Band) filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court last week against parent company Viacom accusing them of attempts to get out of paying performance-based bonuses. The suit accuses Viacom, who are looking to sell Harmonix, of manipulating distribution costs to reduce bonus payouts. Word is they: "decided to forego the opportunity to reduce EA’s distribution fees during 2008 (or in any other way enhance Harmonix’s net income or Gross Profit for 2008), and instead demanded benefits for itself (rather than Harmonix) in exchange for allowing EA to continue distributing Rock Band." The suit goes on to say: "Although a reduced 2008 EA distribution fee would have increased Harmonix's gross profit and operating profits in 2008, Viacom realized that every $1.00 of distribution fees that Harmonix saved during 2008 would require Viacom to pay an additional $3.50 of earn-outs to the [ex-shareholders]."

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9. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 17:57 Kevin Lowe
 
Steele Johnson wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 15:30:
They added nothing to make gameplay more fun. Increasing the difficulty and adding new songs is not the path they should have taken.
Huh? Increasing the difficulty and adding new songs is exactly what their competitor did, and it flopped horribly. Harmonix did add to the gameplay for non-Pro Mode players, with harmonies making it to the main game and a new keyboard.
 
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8. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 17:57 Ventura
 
Steele Johnson wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 15:30:
Increasing the difficulty and adding new songs is not the path they should have taken.

Actually, that's probably exactly what people who love the genre wanted them to do. The main thing I wanted was pro drums, and they threw that in there along with the keyboard and various pro modes for the guitar.

It's as he said though, the genre crashed. Far too few people care about the whole plastic instrument thing now. Rock Band 3 could have been anything, and it would have bombed. People are just over it.

I hope they get what they deserve though, because Rock Band would have been wildly successful financially back in the day, and it doesn't surprise me that Viacom might've tried to cover up some of that in order to get out of paying as much of the royalties as they could've.
 
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7. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 17:48 avianflu
 

The phase called 'companies suing each other after the consumer demand for these games plummeted in one year" has now begun.
 
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6. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 15:33 nin
 
I don't think you can simply say that it "crashed". People who love the genre are disappointed in the direction the developers took.

But it wasn't just harmonix, I'm pretty sure the Guitar Hero series, the DJ Hero series, and Power Gig all bombed.

People have moved on, and the sales can't support the sheer number of titles out there.
 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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5. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 15:30 Steele Johnson
 
nin wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 14:03:
If they stayed focused on making music "games" and didn't waste all their money on their music creation network and music tutoring software, they'd probably be doing very well right now.

Except that the whole music game genre crashed this year...

I don't think you can simply say that it "crashed". People who love the genre are disappointed in the direction the developers took. Rock Band 3 had so much potential, but the developers clearly took the wrong path. The game could have been much better if they made the actual gameplay more fun rather than turning it into tutoring software and keeping the same ol' features of the previous versions. They added nothing to make gameplay more fun. Increasing the difficulty and adding new songs is not the path they should have taken.
 
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4. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 14:03 nin
 
If they stayed focused on making music "games" and didn't waste all their money on their music creation network and music tutoring software, they'd probably be doing very well right now.

Except that the whole music game genre crashed this year...
 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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3. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 12:13 Steele Johnson
 
Kind of a lame lawsuit. Harmonix made some piss-poor decisions and now they're going down kicking and screaming. If they stayed focused on making music "games" and didn't waste all their money on their music creation network and music tutoring software, they'd probably be doing very well right now. They've had so many new features that they could have introduced in RB3 and instead they opted to create tutoring software which requires expensive equipment. DOH!

Their biggest mistake was to abandon the party game genre where both kids and parents enjoy together.
 
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2. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 11:57 Tumbler
 
I'm confused, when did these guys become ex-shareholders? Assuming they haven't sold Harmonix what changed between then an now to make them not shareholders?

And assuming Viacom owns Harmonix I don't see what Harmonix has to complain about? Viacom was trying to exploit them for more profit to Viacom...which is kind of what business's do. Would be like someone bitching at walmart for refusing to pay them more money for their product (like a pack of socks for $0.30) when Walmart is doubling the price in it's store for the consumer. (and in this case walmart owned the sock factory)
 
99gamers.com-Game trading site, PC digital trading!
Kickstarter "Game Developer"!
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1. Re: Harmonix Shareholders Sue Viacom Dec 21, 2010, 10:59 nin
 

I'd say Harmonix is done, at least in it's current form. Pretty sad...
 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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