RUMOR: Harmonix to Outsource some Future Rock Band DLC?Posted on March 15th, 2011 1 comment
This past weekend at PAX East in Boston, MA, we had the opportunity to connect with several of our industry friends from Harmonix, independent Rock Band Network (RBN) authors, popular blogs authors, and the likes. From discussions we had over the weekend, we pieced together an interesting picture of the future of the Rock Band DLC franchise. In the wake of recent layoffs at Harmonix and the Activision announcement to shelve Guitar Hero, our source tells us, “The times, they are a changing.”
Future downloadable content (DLC) for Rock Band 3 will be handled by top tier RBN authors. The word on the street is that Harmonix is working with some of their better performing RBN authors to take over authoring for the Rock Band’s larger mainstream licensed DLC. If all comes true, think of Harmonix as remaining the engine developer, music licensee, and marketing, while it outsources its creation of regular revenue generating DLC to 3rd parties.
This shows that the leading rhythm game producer is planning to reduce the size of its operation more, and empower others to continue to grow the music library. I look at this as similar to a large enterprise software company outsourcing its professional services work to contractors, so it can remain small and focused on the core of the business, which in Harmonix’ case, is to make the shrink wrapped product. With Harmonix having already outsourced its hardware manufacturing to MadCatz and now plans to outsource its DLC to RBN authors, the signs show that Harmonix is doing what it needs to do to react to the slowdown of sales in their shrink wrapped Rock Band games.
Looking at how RBN authors recently were granted access to the Rock Band 3 features (aka RBN 2.0) of multiple vocal tracks, pro drum authoring, and keys authoring, these external authors have all they need to make a basic Rock Band 3 song. This is excluding the Pro guitar/bass modes, currently not made available to RBN authors.
The change could be great news for RBN authors who currently are working overtime to get new music in the Rock Band library, only to sell a handful of copies of songs because the artists they are working with are virtually unknown. If RBN authors are able to have the big name artists sent their way, they might be able to afford to stay in the authoring business, while Harmonix can reduce its workforce and focus on the core of its game engine and marketing.
We look forward to an official announcement from Harmonix and see how this changes the direction of the leader in music gaming.
UPDATE: Just a minor, but important update. Removed “all” from the title. Don’t want to over-sensationalize this interesting news.
Great insight into the video game world, Shawn..Loved how you portrayed a business view and compared it to what it is now..Industry. As a fan of the Rock Band franchise, I hope they don’t lose sight of what they are doing..Making people happy vs making money. mp
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My Gadget, Game & Gizmo Obsession …blogging about mobile stuff, gamer stuff, and other stuff since 2007 (MyGGGo.com)