“Fortnite” maker seizes Boston music game developer Harmonix

Epic games, the North Carolina-based company that made “Fortnite” online shoot-’em-up one of the world’s most popular video games, has acquired Harmonix music systems of Boston, creator of the hit music game franchises “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band”.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed and the companies declined to comment. But this is the second round for Harmonix in terms of acquisition by a bigger player. In 2006, media giant Viacom paid $ 175 million to buy Harmonix, followed by more than that in bonus payments after a court battle.

At the time, the company was capitalizing on the resounding success of “Guitar Hero,” a game in which players pressed buttons on simulated plastic guitars to simulate booming guitar solos of famous rock songs. The game has sold millions of copies. The same goes for Harmonix’s follow-up track, “Rock Band,” which allows a group of musicians to use simulated guitars, keyboards, and drums to form musical ensembles. This series generated over $ 1 billion in sales.

But in 2010, the market for musical games collapsed. That year, Viacom sold Harmonix to a group of investors that included private equity and company co-founder Alex Rigopulos. Since then, the company has had modest success with a dance game, “Dance Central”, while a musical game based on the classic Walt Disney music film “Fantasia” has failed to find an audience.

In recent years, Harmonix has released a number of virtual reality games, such as the music-based target shooter “Audica”. In his game Fuser 2020, players become DJs at a big dance party, mixing beats and melodies from popular songs and scoring points for the quality of their music mixes. Additionally, Harmonix continues to support loyal “Rock Band” fans with downloadable packages of new music.

According to a statement from Epic Games, Harmonix will continue to support its existing product line.

But its main goal will be to create improved musical experiences for “Fortnite” players. In this popular game, players parachute across an island full of hiding places, tools, and weapons, then battle it out until only one person or team survives. The internet-based game can be played for free, but players often spend large sums on “V-Bucks” which allow them to purchase special tools, abilities, and costumes. “Fortnite” is extremely popular around the world, with around 350 million registered players.

On its website, Harmonix said it “will work with Epic to once again defy expectations as we bring our unique brand of music playing experiences to the Metaverse, and we couldn’t be more excited.”


Hiawatha Bray can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @GlobeTechLab.