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Renown developer of music games, Harmonix, has been hit with a round of layoffs at the company. After recently releasing the electronic board game DropMix, the developer had to reduce overhead by cutting down on the staff count.
The reason for the layoffs is that Harmonix is attempting to keep the current business direction in line with the development slate, and so the studio had to cut down on overhead by reducing head counts.
The Gamasutra article states that Harmonix has not cancelled any of its upcoming projects. The developer is still working on some new content, including additional content for DropMix and new content for Rock Band.
We don't know what else Harmonix has in the pipeline at the moment. The company has, so far, been struggling with the independence that comes with stepping out from under the umbrella and financial safety net of a publisher.
Harmonix gained a lot of fame and fortune during the previous generation, a decade ago, when the company released Guitar Hero for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The studio was responsible for making the music-rhythm genre mainstream. The massive success of the series eventually led to a lot of copycats from other companies.
Eventually Harmonix managed to get away from Guitar Hero and started another successful franchise midway through seventh gen called Rock Band. The game went on to become another big success, but the music-rhythm bubble eventually popped due to over-saturation and Harmonix was left out in the cold after EA and Activision abandoned the genre.
The developers decided to make a comeback in the form of Rock Band 4 after trying its hand with the Dance Central franchise and attempting to create a franchise with Disney. The game came out for the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 back in 2015.
The company also tried its hand at VR with Rock Band VR, but it wasn't such a huge smash success, given how small the market is for VR hardware and how little demand there is from consumers for VR software.
Part of the problem is that Harmonix is having trouble navigating a market that was burned out on music-rhythm games, and the whole novelty of video game-based music games with real instruments has faded from view.
The shrinking market and interest in the music genre has made it difficult for the studio to stay relevant during this generation. The release of DropMix was a way to dabble in the highly popular tabletop genre, which has seen startling success with a variety of Kickstarter projects. The game was supposed to mix in the tabletop elements with the CCG genre, creating a hybrid cross-media gaming experience for multiple players.
However, DropMix didn't necessarily set the market on fire, and now Harmonix is looking to Super Beat Sports as a way to keep the company afloat. The title is due out for the Nintendo Switch. Given the popularity of Nintendo's system it could result in some strong sales, but much like the Wii, it's a long shot.
In the interim Harmonix is looking to move forward following the layoffs.