Harmonix Music Systems

Harmonix Music Systems

Infobox Company
company_name = Harmonix Music Systems
company_type = Subsidiary
foundation = 1995
founder = Alex Rigopulos, Eran Egozy
location = flagicon|USACambridge, Massachusetts, USA
key_people =
industry = Software & Programming
products =
owner = Viacom
parent = MTV Networks
homepage = http://www.harmonixmusic.com

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 highly acclaimed and top-selling music video games.

Harmonix is best known as the developer of "Rock Band" as well as the original developer of the "Guitar Hero" series up until "", which Neversoft developed, along with future "Guitar Hero" titles.


Harmonix was founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy who met while attending MIT. [http://www.gamecritics.com/feature/interview/rigopulos/page01.php Interview with Alex Rigopulos] at GameCritics.com] 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 "" 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. CamJam was utilized at Disney theme parks. [ [http://livedesignonline.com/mag/show_business_roar_iaapa/index.html The Roar of IAAPA] at livedesignonline.com]

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. [http://www.gamespot.com/video/938871/6171974/behind-the-games-alex-rigopulos Behind the Scenes: Alex Rigopulos] at GameSpot]

To develop "FreQuency", Rigopulos and Egozy formed a larger team, finding many of their new employees to be musicians. 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, [ [http://www.harmonixmusic.com/frequency.html FreQuency] at Harmonix.com] 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, [ [http://www.harmonixmusic.com/amplitude.html Amplitude] at Harmonix.com] and a small cult following, but it was not a financial hit.

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 "". 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. [Totilo, Stephen (2005-12-04). 'Guitar Hero': The Video Game That Literally Rocks (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1518159/20051214/index.jhtml?headlines=true) Retrieved on 2008-02-06]

In September 2006, MTV Networks announced that it was acquiring Harmonix on behalf of MTV for $175 million. [ [http://www.harmonixmusic.com/p092206.html Harmonix ] ] Harmonix's last "Guitar Hero" game for RedOctane, "", 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 continuned 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 July 1, 2008, over 150 songs have been made available as downloadable content, with over 15 million songs sold. [cite web | url = http://www.rockband.com/dlc | title = DLC Credits | work = RockBand.com | accessdate = 2008-02-08 ] cite web | url = http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/885/885168p1.html | title = Rock Band 2: The Opening Act | publisher = IGN.com | first = Hilary | last = Goldstein | date = 2008-06-30 | accessdate = 2008-06-30] "Rock Band 2", released on the Xbox 360 in September 2008, features improved instrument peripherals and updated features while still being compatible with all original "Rock Band" downloadable songs.

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, member 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 .
* 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 [ [http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=511410 The Harvard Crimson :: Arts :: Fill in the Blanks ] ] [ [http://www.cokemachineglow.com/track_review/3139/the-main-drag Cokemachineglow Track Review] ]
* Kurt Davis, frontman for The Konks
* Chris Lynch, member of Choo Choo la Rouge
* Dave Plante, member of Overboard
* Jason Arnone, former member of You Shriek


*"Frequency" (2001)
*"Amplitude" (2003)
*"Karaoke Revolution" (2003)
*"Karaoke Revolution Vol. 2" (2004)
*"Karaoke Revolution Vol. 3" (2004)
*"" (2004)
*"Karaoke Revolution Party" (2005)
*"Guitar Hero" (2005)
*"" (2006)
*"Guitar Hero II" (2006)
*"" (2007)
*"Phase" (2007)
*"Rock Band" (2007)
*"Rock Band 2" (2008)

Patents portfolio

Harmonix has assembled a modest IP portfolio, which includes:

* [http://www.google.com/patents?id=28ceAAAAEBAJ Real-time music creation system]
* [http://www.google.com/patents?id=zfAAAAAAEBAJ Real-time music creation]
* [http://www.google.com/patents?id=eOkJAAAAEBAJ Method and apparatus for facilitating group musical interaction over a network]
* [http://www.google.com/patents?id=DWcKAAAAEBAJ Method and apparatus for facilitating group musical interaction over a network]
* [http://www.google.com/patents?id=mSsLAAAAEBAJ Method and apparatus for displaying musical data in a three dimensional environment]


External links

* [http://www.harmonixmusic.com/ Harmonix website]
* [http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/04669652.asp "Games people play"] , Harmonix profile by Camille Dodero, May 2005

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