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"Several potential buyers" interested in quick Harmonix sale

Developer made a loss of $65m in last quarter; Viacom admits 'we don't have scale or expertise for games'

Media giant Viacom has admitted that it has been unable to successfully break the videogames market, and it's this lack of diversification that has led to the sale of Rock Band developer Harmonix.

The company said today it is preparing to sell the games maker, and that there has already been interest from several buyers.

"Our decision to exit this business reflect our strategy of focusing entirely on what we do best - make great branded entertainment content and deliver it through a variety of platforms," said Thomas Dooley, COO of Viacom in a call to investors.

"Harmonix has and will continue to create terrific videogames but for us it is about focus.

"The console games business requires an expertise and scale that we don't have. We have taken steps to sell Harmonix and we are in discussions with several potential buyers."

As well as plans to sell Harmonix "expeditiously", Dooley revealed that Harmonix suffered a loss of $65 million in the last quarter, but at least half of that was due to Viacom pursuing a potential sale.

"The third parties have a different economic view of Harmonix and we believe that it's an asset that will be worth more to them than it is to us," he said.

Viacom bought Harmonix four years ago for $175 million, but sales of its games have never met expectations at the company. The corporation has even tried to claw back bonuses paid to the developer's top staff.

Viacom's most ambitious Harmonix project was The Beatles: Rock Band, which reportedly cost the media firm $50 million in licensing fees for the Fab Four's back catalogue, although sales were only modest.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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