Harmonix lays off 37, CEO moves into new role (update)

Harmonix Music Systems laid off 37 full-time employees today, and Alex Rigopulos, CEO and co-founder of the studio, is moving into a new management role, a representative for the company confirmed to Polygon today.

"Harmonix is in the process of restructuring our organization to bring it into alignment with our current and future product development plans. 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," said the spokesperson.

Rigopulos, who founded Harmonix with Eran Egozy in 1995 and has held the position of CEO since then, is taking the role of chief creative officer. Steve Janiak, who most recently served as Harmonix's head of publishing and business operations, is the new CEO.

According to Harmonix, today's layoffs don't affect any games that are currently in production at the studio, which include Fantasia: Music Evolved and the Kickstarter-funded title Amplitude. Harmonix ran an 18-day Kickstarter campaign for Amplitude, shorter than the typical 30-day length.

Support for the recently released mobile game Record Run is also unaffected. The spokesperson added that the layoffs are unrelated to Microsoft's decision to unbundle the Kinect from the Xbox One. That announcement would seem to be detrimental to the chances of success of Fantasia: Music Evolved, which requires Kinect on both Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Harmonix also announced today that it plans to end alpha testing for Chroma, the music-based first-person shooter the studio was developing with Hidden Path Entertainment. According to Harmonix, the game "will need some substantial retooling," and the developers now have to "figure out their next move." Asked if the layoffs were related to Chroma, the Harmonix representative offered no further comment.

Update: Harmonix posted an update to the Amplitude Kickstarter campaign this afternoon, reiterating the studio's support for the crowdfunded project in spite of the layoffs.

"We realize that many of our supporters might have some questions regarding how this might affect Amplitude, and we would like to quickly take the time to address those concerns," the development team began. "Thanks to the amazing outpouring of support for the Amplitude project, we were able to reach a Kickstarter goal that would enable us to support the development staff necessary to make the game a reality.

"Simply put, our promise to our backers and fans has not changed, and the Amplitude project remains unaffected."

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