Epic Games has announced it will acquire Rock Band and Fuser developer Harmonix.
Harmonix becomes the latest studio to join Epic’s growing stable as it continues its year-long streak of acquisitions. Harmonix is famous for creating the Guitar Hero franchise at Activision and birthing the wave of band-based rhythm games that dominated the late 2000’s. Its Rock Band franchise, created after departing Activision, is still considered the era’s gold standard.
Its most recent game, Fuser, an enjoyable and accessible DJ simulator, was a critical darling and remains popular among Harmonix fans.
There are two things to note about Epic’s acquisition here, however. The first: there is no talk in either of the official statements about the terms of the acquisition, nor the amount Epic paid to finalise it. This is unusual. Acquisitions of this nature are usually accompanied by a trumpeting of expenditure. Considering neither party seems to want to discuss numbers suggests that Epic might have gotten Harmonix for a steal.
The second is what Harmonix’s immediate future at Epic looks like. From Epic’s statement:
“The Harmonix team will collaborate closely with Epic to develop musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite while continuing to support existing titles including Rock Band 4.”
Imagine buying the people who created Guitar Hero just to put them to work on Fortnite events. What a wild flex.
On Harmonix’s end, it was more about assuring fans that nothing will materially change. Servers for their games aren’t going anywhere. Rock Band 4‘s DLC plans aren’t changing. Fuser‘s events will go on. If anything, the acquisition secures Harmonix important ongoing funding for its projects. Music licensing is incredibly expensive. With Epic’s capital behind them, hopefully Harmonix won’t have to worry about its finances ever again. That it has managed to survive as an independent studio while licensing music for numerous games is honestly a bit of a marvel.