January 22, 2017

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Music to Their Ears: How the Founders of Harmonix Found Their Niche

In last week’s post on Tony Hawk, I mentioned in passing Hawk’s lucrative line of skateboarding video games.

For the next couple posts, I’m going to take a look at some of the ways people are making money off video games.

Video games are more than a way for teenagers to pass the time. Video Games have become an incredibly lucrative industry, taking in about 11.7 billion dollars in 2008.  Today’s games have become such highly complex products, with countless people contributing to the end product, that it’s often easy to forget that it still takes just one or two people to actually come up with the idea for a video game.

So here’s a Why Didn’t I Think of That? moment:  A video game where players “play” instrument-shaped controllers, pretending to make music from their favorite bands.

This story from CNNMoney.com is a great look at Harmonix, the creators of the wildly successful Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises. In the interview, co-founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy discuss–among other things– the many, many failures that it took to get to where they are– the top of the popular gaming world.

“As an entrepreneur you never want to lose site of the mountaintop you’re trying to get to, but you have to remain incredibly flexible about the path that you take to get there, which often needs to change direction,” says Rigopulos.  Good advice. And, if you read the interview, you’ll see exactly what he means.

Interestingly enough, the story of Harmonix reminds me a lot of one of our WDITOT stories. Ge Wang, the creator of Smule, a company that manufactures “virtual instrument apps” for the Iphone, was in the academic world, teaching and studying “computer music.” Much like Harmonix’s Eran Egozy, he applied some of the revolutionary technology he was working with, and manufactured a fun, musical product for consumers to entertain themselves with.

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