Harmonix stakeholders suing Viacom over Rock Band earnings

Former Harmonix shareholders are planning to take the developer's parent company, Viacom, to court over its alleged failure to make good on pay-outs based on the success of Harmonix's Rock Band franchise.

The suit was filed last week by former Harmonix stakeholders and company founders such as Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy. As detailed by Gamustra, the grievances stem from Viacom's acquisition of Harmonix in September 2006, wherein it agreed to pay Harmonix shareholders an allotted percentage of the gross profits made from the Rock Band series over the coming years based on a mutually agreed upon earn-out payment schedule. Now, four years later (and one month after Viacom announced that it will be selling Harmonix), the shareholders are alleging that Viacom has held out on its share of monies owed and that the time has come to pay up.

According to a statement representing the plaintiffs: "[The shareholders seek to] recover damages arising from Viacom's manipulation of these 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."

In a nutshell, remember that scene in Spider-man where Peter Parker wrestles for an agreed upon rate based on his performance and then gets paid way less for his work by the manager? Well Harmonix is Peter Parker and Viacom is that manager; except that Viacom doesn't get ganked by a random thug, thus setting off a chain of events whereby Harmonix becomes a superhuman vigilante.

Ok, so that's a terrible metaphor, but this is some strong egg nog. Full details of the lawsuit can be found at Gamustra.

Dec 20, 2010

[Source: Gamustra]

Viacom to sell Harmonix. Activision or EA expected to acquire Rock Band developer 
“This morning's announcement does not affect the ongoing work at the studio,” says Harmonix


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  • ChiefLethal - December 22, 2010 3:46 a.m.

    Blizzard has been self-publishing their games since Warcraft 1 and even before merging with Activision, were among the top PC game developers around. So it is possible. I think people are just too eager to settle on an over-done formula so their games will sell and become yearly installments, something that is becoming far more prevalent.
  • FanofSaiyan - December 22, 2010 12:30 a.m.

    I'm rooting for you Harmonix, I may not like Rock Band but you deserve your cut of the profits like everybody else!
  • D0CCON - December 21, 2010 10:37 p.m.

    Good luck Harmonix! Mainly because those Viacom bastards stopped all future Beatles Rock Band DLC.
  • Crabhand - December 21, 2010 8:15 p.m.

    @ChiefLethal If only it were that simple, eh? Money has to come from somewhere.
  • ChiefLethal - December 21, 2010 7:06 p.m.

    Lawsuits like this would never be an issue if developers would just self publish their games.
  • FoxdenRacing - December 21, 2010 6:43 p.m.

    In other words: "Hollywood studio attempts to use Hollywood Accounting to avoid paying a contractual obligation". May as well start placing your bets now on when 1983 repeats itself...

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