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Epic Games buys Guitar Hero creator to work on Fortnite

Epic Games has acquired Rock Band and Guitar Hero creator Harmonix “to create musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite.

The acquisition, details of which were not disclosed, was announced yesterday (24 November) in a blog post on the Harmonix website, which read:

“Over the last 26 years, we have pushed ourselves to redefine how people experience and interact with music. From the earliest days of The Axe to Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, our VR titles, Fuser, and everything in between, we have aspired to redefine what a music game can be.

“Now, we’ll be working with Epic to once again challenge expectations as we bring our unique brand of musical gaming experiences to the Metaverse, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Epic – which is backed by Sony Corp and carries a US$28 billion+ valuation – says that, as it works “to build the metaverse”, the Harmonix team’s “expertise is needed to reimagine how music is experienced, created and distributed”.

“Together we will transform how players experience music, going from passive listeners to active participants”

Music has become an increasing focus for Epic, following the success of virtual concerts inside of Fortnite from the likes of Travis ScottAriana Grande, MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin. According to the company, acquiring Harmonix fits into that musical focus.

“Music is already bringing millions of people together in Fortnite, from our emotes to global concerts and events,” Alain Tascan, Epic’s VP of game development, said in a statement. “Together with the Harmonix team, we will transform how players experience music, going from passive listeners to active participants.”

Boston-based Harmonix was founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy and was bought by Viacom/MTV in 2006 for US$175 million.

Four years later, Viacom sold Harmonix to Harmonix-SBE Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Columbus Nova, LLC.

In 2007, Harmonix launched the Rockband franchise which exceeded a billion dollars in revenues by 2009 and secured a major coup with the development and release of The Beatles: Rock Band game, described by The New York Times at the time as “the most important video game yet made”.


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Frukt unveils Field Work 2016 festival branding guide

Creative agency Frukt last night unveiled the sixth edition of Field Work – “the definitive global guide to brand activations at music festivals” – at a launch event at the Gibson Brands Studio in central London.

This year’s guide (pictured) focuses on ‘the new transparency’ (subtitled “embracing the ‘third wave’ of branded festival activations”), arguing that brands who advertise at music festivals should now be doing so in a more transparent way than ever before. It divides festival branding into three distinct ages: The silent generation, characterised by “loud, brash banner sponsorship, shouted from the sidelines but ultimately falling on deaf ears”; the covert generation, which is “party first, brand second experiential marketing, leveraging entertainment as a ‘right to play'”; and the current, transparent generation, featuring “a candid and open approach, not being afraid to put the brand and its story above the entertainment parapet”.

Featured case studies include Guitar Hero Live’The Amp at V Festival, Reading Festival and Bestival, in which festivalgoers were invited to play the game months ahead of its official release date in front of an amp the size of a house (Field Work says the ‘activation’ “put the game firmly back on the map, announcing its presence loud and clear”); Energizer’s Dress Your Head Up initiative at Bestival, which invited attendees to decorate a free headtorch with a range of “colourful and charming” accessories; Telstra’s The Big Selfie Stick from Splendour in the Grass, which capitalised on a site-wide ban on selfie sticks with its own 10m-high version, a “smart hybrid of both the ‘photo bomb’ and ‘size matters’ trends” that “provide[d] the brand with a much-needed subversive edge”; and Virgin Trains’ Festival Express to Festival №6 and Kendal Calling, which “remove[d] the drudgery often associated with festival travel” by serving up live music, cocktails, magicians and “glitter-paint makeovers” to festivalgoers en route.

The full Field Work 2016 guide can be downloaded at the Frukt website.