Back in November, Viacom (which owns MTV and, predictably, MTV Multiplayer) announced that it it would be looking to sell Harmonix. The Boston-based game developer was first acquired by Viacom in September 2006 and went on to release nine titles as a part of MTV Games. That relationship ended today as Viacom announced that Harmonix had been purchased by Columbus Nova, an investment firm which manages "over $10.0 billion of assets through its own funds and affiliated portfolio companies."
Harmonix confirmed the deal, saying that they're "excited to be returning to our roots as an independent and privately owned studio."
But what does this mean for you, John Q. Gamer? Well, probably not a whole lot. Harmonix will continue to release downloadable content for "Rock Band 3" and "Dance Central," and they continue to hold the rights to both franchises, and are free to make sequels for either. This is good news, as there have already been rumors that they've been working on a 3DS game, and it'd be a shame if that had to be shelved because of a change in leadership.
It'll be interesting to see whether Harmonix changes tack moving forward, though. Despite critical acclaim, sales of "Rock Band" games haven't been booming in recent years, which was one of the reasons Viacom was prepared to make the deal. The latest game from Harmonix, "Dance Central," was also a critical hit and was considered to be the strongest launch game in the Kinect line-up, and with "Dance Central 2" already in production, the company is likely shifting more towards motion gaming. Whatever ends up happening, expect the developer to stick to its music-friendly roots.