Rock Band developer Harmonix has shed 13 per cent of its staff in new restructuring, although owner MTV Games insists that the redundancies are primarily limited to the QA department and temporary or part time employees.
Speaking to website Joystiq, a MTV Games spokesperson indicated that the quality assurance department had been enlarged to deal with Harmonix's 2009 schedule and that those now let go consisted of a "combination of temporary/part time help, outsourcing and support from external partners - which is in line with how other game developers manage their QA departments."
An earlier comment though had indicated that the departures were only "primarily in QA", with a staff designer "Vegas" confirming on Twitter that they had also been made redundant.
MTV Games has denied that the changes are related to lower than expected sales of The Beatles: Rock Band. "This was a process and business decision unrelated to the performance of any MTV Games/Harmonix product," said the company. "MTV Games and Harmonix are very pleased with the sales of our Rock Band titles and we expect to continue to see strong sales throughout the holidays across all of our titles."
"The Beatles: Rock Band has sold over 1 million units worldwide to date. Again, the reason for the restructuring is due to better aligning our staffing to best suit our product development plans and schedules moving forward," added the spokesperson.
Sales of music games in general have seen to have slowed in 2009, with Activision's Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band both performing below expectations. The Rock Band brand also continues to underperform in general in Europe, where delayed releases, high prices and console exclusivity deals have restricted its impact.
Following the Lego Rock Band collaboration with Traveller's Tales this year, Harmonix's next major game is Rock Band 3 - which is expected to be released in 2010.