Harmonix: VidRhythm Studio's First In-House iOS Release

Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos told Gamasutra that the studio's secretive VidRhythm is in fact an iOS project, and just one of "a lot of new IP" in development at the music game developer.
Harmonix co-founder and CEO Alex Rigopulos told Gamasutra in a recent interview that the studio's secretive VidRhythm project is in fact an iOS release -- and that's just one of several new projects going on at the Cambridge, MA-based Rock Band and Dance Central developer. While Harmonix developed 2007's Phase for iPod, and is credited as co-developer with EA Montreal on 2009's Rock Band for iOS, VidRhythm is the first completely internally-developed iOS title to come out of the studio, Rigopulos said. "It will actually be our first iOS release as a studio, coming out relatively soon," he revealed in a phone interview. "I can't say anything yet about what it is, but in parallel with all these huge console game productions we have underway, we're commencing our first iOS development project." "The VidRhythm project has a tiny team that's doing our very first project in this space," he added. Word of the title first emerged in July, when eagle-eyed webgoers discovered a Harmonix trademark for "VidRhythm." The studio soon confirmed that it was in fact a project in development. Rigopulos wasn't ready to go on the record about VidRhythm details, but he said the title represents a growing focus at the studio on smartphone gaming. [UPDATE: Gamasutra also understands that the title is more along the lines of an app than a full-blown game.] "We think there are a lot of creative opportunities [with smartphones] that we haven't really been able to focus on yet. So we're looking forward to doing more in that space," he said. While best known for major console-centric triple-A music game franchises like the instrument controller-based Rock Band and Kinect-supported dance game Dance Central (Dance Central 2 is currently in development), Harmonix will be testing the waters of many different platforms and markets. "We're working on a lot of new IP, on many different platforms," Rigopulos said. "We're hiring, and growing again." Asked if Harmonix might revisit games akin to early rhythm titles like the studio's underappreciated PlayStation 2 games Frequency and Amplitude, he replied, "I certainly wouldn't rule it out. As I said, we're working on a rather broad and diverse range of potential products right now, and we want to accommodate a pretty diverse set of audiences with these new products. Obviously, elements of our earlier games that we felt were successful, we don't want to ignore." And while the bottom dropped out of the instrument-based music genre at a rapid pace, Rigopulos said music-based games are still a viable business -- developers just have to appeal to the music lover in all of us. "We at Harmonix are working on [new music game experiences], both large and small, and other people are as well," he said. "I think the basic point here is that music is a profound part of who we are." Gamasutra will have more from Rigopulos in the coming days.

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