Skip to main content

Harmonix lays off 37 and chooses a new CEO, "retooling" musical shooter Chroma

Audio player loading…

Less than one week after it successfully wrapped up the Amplitude Kickstarter , Harmonix has announced that it has laid off 37 employees and selected a new CEO; in a separate development, an email sent to testers of the "musical shooter" Chroma said the game isn't unfolding as the studio had hoped.

"Harmonix is in the process of restructuring our organization to bring it into alignment with our current and future product development plans," a Harmonix spokesperson said in a statement to PC Gamer. "Unfortunately, this means making the difficult decision to reduce the number of full-time staff. We sincerely appreciate the work of each and every one of these employees. Harmonix is working to ensure that those affected are well taken care of as we make this change."

As part of the restructuring, Alex Rigopulos will be replaced as chief executive officer by Steve Janiak, who until now has served as Harmonix's head of publishing and business operations. Rigopulos is not leaving Harmonix, however, but will step into the role of chief creative officer. Harmonix said the layoffs will not affect any games currently in production, including Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved or Amplitude, and further added that the cuts are not related to Microsoft's recent decision to unbundle Kinect from the Xbox One. That move was seen as potentially damaging to Harmonix because the upcoming Fantasia requires the motion-control hardware in order to operate.

The timing of the layoffs might seem odd, coming just six days after Harmonix raised more than $844,000 on Kickstarter to fund the development of Amplitude. The studio clarified that funding will ensure sufficient staffing levels to complete the game, noting that it "is not the only project" currently in production.

One of those other projects, Chroma, suffered a setback of its own today. As reported by Kotaku , Harmonix sent an email to early testers suggesting that the game has hit some bumps. "Based on the terrific feedback we got from all of you in the community, as well as our own analysis, we have concluded that Chroma will need some substantial retooling to be the game we want it to be," the email said. "The team has, in fact, already started prototyping new directions for the game based on those successful mechanics."

Whether the "retooling" will affect the planned launch of Chroma, which was announced for later this year, has not been announced.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.