It's the holidays and that means mistletoe, rum cake and lawsuits! Yesterday, we learned that some of the founders and shareholders of Rock Band developers Harmonix are suing their parent company Viacom over profits from the Rock Band franchise. Today, Viacom has responded.
"Viacom fulfilled its contractual obligations and our actions were completely appropriate and consistent with the terms of our agreement with Harmonix shareholders and the interests of our shareholders," a Viacom representative told Gamasutra. "Mr. Winshall made a decision to spurn our early proposals, which were highly favorable to the stockholders he represented...He failed to get the unjustified windfall he hoped for and as a result damaged those shareholders, who are obligated to repay amounts already received...Having failed in his game, he is attempting to rewrite the contract and history with false and irrelevant claims, no doubt to protect himself from the very unhappy stockholders he represents."
There are, of course, two sides to every lawsuit. The original suit seeks to recover "damages arising from Viacom's manipulation of ... earn-out payments by diverting opportunities from Harmonix for its own benefit in breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing that inheres in Viacom’s contract with Harmonix."
What does that mean for you, the music game fan? Not much, honestly. If I had to make a bet, I'd wager we won't see Rock Band 4 for awhile, if ever. The colapsed sales in the music game market likely mean many many fewer games in that segment, no matter how many suits are filed over profits.
As yet, no buyer for Harmonix has been found, which, to me, is a shame. If ever any company ever put out consistently high-quality games, it's Harmonix. Those guys rock.