Harmonix Music Systems is a Cambridge, Mass.-based videogame development company that specializes in music-based games. Founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy, the core principle at the heart of all Harmonix products is to share the joy of creating and performing music with everyone, regardless of their musical experience. The company, renowned for its groundbreaking design innovation, is home to a vibrant and dynamic collection of designers, artists, gamers and musicians.
Harmonix has a long legacy of producing not only popular, but also award-winning games centered around music. Most recently, the studio has completed work on Dance Central and Rock Band 3, leading innovations in the music gaming category.
Dance Central™, exclusively for Kinect for Xbox 360, is the first immersive dance video game that features and tracks full-body dance moves. Completely free from any controller, every routine has authentic choreography for beginners and experts alike to master, alongside a killer soundtrack that spans decades of pop, hip-hop and R&B. Take it step-by-step with Break It Down, jump right in and bust a move in Perform It! or challenge a friend in Dance Battle. You won’t just learn dance moves, you’ll own the dance floor!
Rock Band™3 is the next generation of the ultimate social and interactive music gaming platform. Featuring innovative game modes and instruments, Rock Band 3 is changing the way fans think about and play music games. This next iteration in the Rock Band platform has something for everyone. For those just looking for fun, Rock Band 3 has a streamlined experience, with easy drop-in and drop-out, easier no-fail accessibility and an all new Party Shuffle. For the aspirational rocker, Rock Band 3 presents “Pro Mode,” taking the game beyond Expert and into the realm of real musicianship, with the opportunity to master real guitar, bass, keys or drums. Master an instrument through the gameplay fun of “Rock Band Pro,” add another member to your band with a keyboard controller, or experience 83 new hits from 83 unique bands, along with your current library of songs from the expected 2,000 songs available at launch. For the die-hard Rock Band player, there are more gigs, more ways to customize your band and more unique goals to achieve on your way to the pinnacle of rock stardom.
Rock Band 3 is the next iteration in a gaming category thought to have been brought to the forefront of the public’s attention by Harmonix. Not only did the company create the original Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2, but they also created the first full-band video game, Rock Band, which became a genre-defining music game platform, achieving multi-million unit selling status. The original band featured guitar, bass, drums and vocals and allowed music fans and gamers to form a band and set out on the path to full-fledged rock stardom. Rock Band™2 introduced a robust online multiplayer experience and an unrivaled tracklist and was the first music game to feature backwards-compatibility, giving owners of Rock Band the power to continue playing songs they had previously enjoyed within the original title, both on-disc and as downloadable content. Next, Harmonix took on the task of creating a game for the biggest band in the world – The Beatles. The Beatles: Rock Band introduced three-part harmonies to the Rock Band franchise, allowing up to seven players to perform at once. This journey through the legacy and evolution of the Fab Four’s legendary career allows fans to pick up the guitar, bass, microphone or drums and experience The Beatles’ extraordinary catalogue of music like never before.
During this time, Harmonix also released Rock Band Unplugged for the PlayStation®Portable, marking the first time the Rock Band franchise made its way to a portable device and leading the way for Rock Band Mobile and Rock Band for iPhone/iPod Touch. Harmonix was also behind the family-friendly LEGO Rock Band, Green Day: Rock Band and a variety of track packs featuring metal music, country music and the music of AC/DC.
Harmonix has also established itself as the leader in gaming downloadable content. The Rock Band platform has seen more than 70 million paid song downloads through the Rock Band Music Store and the Rock Band Network, a suite of tools launched in 2010 that allows any band or label to author their songs for play in Rock Band. Maintaining its position as the music video game leader in paid song sales and downloadable content, the Rock Band Music Store is closing in on 2,000 songs available, with new music being added every week.
The studio has come a long way since Alex and Eran met in the MIT Media Laboratory and set out on a mission to bring the joy of performing music to the world. Some of the company’s legacy titles include Frequency (2001) and Amplitude (2003), published by Sony Computer Entertainment, which successfully merged music making with gameplay; the Karaoke Revolution series of titles (ranging from 2003 to 2005, published by Konami Digital Entertainment), which turned singing into a competitive game and game consoles into high-end karaoke machines; and Phase (2007), an interactive music game for the Nano, Classic, and fifth-generation iPods, which allowed users to create a playlist in their iTunes library that Phase then turns into a playable game level; and EyeToy: AntiGrav (2004), published by Sony Computer Entertainment, which allowed users to control an on-screen avatar using Sony’s EyeToy camera – Harmonix’s only game to-date which falls outside of the music genre.
Harmonix actually wasn’t started explicitly to develop video games but rather first produced The Axe, a PC software that turned a joystick or mouse into a musical instrument, with which anyone could improvise original instrumental solos in real-time. The company also originally created interactive music attractions for theme parks, including Disney’s Epcot Center. These exhibits allowed users to improvise music simply by moving their hands in the air.
With this love and passion for music, fused with the same passion for gaming, Harmonix continues to live and grow in Cambridge, expanding the Rock Band franchise, developing new titles and searching for new and unique ways to bring the joy of music to the world.