Harmonix has confirmed that it is still working on the Rock Band franchise, and that its next offering will be a "radical departure" from the common understanding of the franchise.
In a comprehensive interview with Giantbomb, leading figures from Harmonix explained that the dwindling fortunes of peripheral-based music games did not prompt the studio to abandon the franchise.
"Looking into next year, we're actually considering fairly fundamental creative reinterpretation of what the Rock Band business is, said co-founder and CEO Alex Rigopulos.
"We're committed to the franchise, but when I think that when we do things with it in the future, it's going to be a pretty dramatic departure from what we've done before. "
"You might assume we're going to add saxophone or something along those lines," added co-founder and CTO Eran Ergozy. "But no, the kind of direction we're planning on taking Rock Band, the kind of innovation we have in mind, is taking it in a different direction, one that's more suitable to the kind of environment we're in, what people are doing now, what they're interested in playing now, versus, say, 2007."
Harmonix was acquired by Viacom subsidiary MTV Games in September 2006. However, declining sales in the music genre resulted in Viacom selling the studio to a private investment group in November 2010, before apparently leaving the games business altogether earlier this year.
The two companies are still locked in a legal dispute over $131 million in performance related bonuses that Viacom claims it accidentally paid to Harmonix shareholders due to a miscalculation.
However, senior vice president of product development Greg LoPiccolo emphasised the importance of Viacom's contribution to the Rock Band franchise.
"I feel like the conventional storyline was, like, 'We got bought by Viacom and it was hard, and now we're indie and that's cool,' and there is some truth to that," he said.
"It's also true that the whole Rock Band franchise, which was this huge ambition we had, we never could have done without Viacom. There was no way we could have ever accomplished that without MTV and Viacom."
"It wouldn't have happened. Rock Band wouldn't have happened without their involvement."