A Brief Chat with Harmonix Music Systems’ Daniel Sussman…As the developers of the original Guitar Hero games and now the driving force behind the Rock Band series, Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. is one of the key architects of the current music simulation video game phenomenon. Director of Hardware Development, Daniel Sussman has been with Harmonix since before the first end-user ever picked up one of those tiny plastic guitars and began playing along with the classic rock tracks featured in the first Guitar Hero.
There’s no shortage of opinions, and no hard data, but several ask: “How can this be bad?” The numbers are mind numbing. In January, Harmonix, owned by Viacom, reported Rock Band broke platinum, selling one million units. By May they had shipped a total of three million copies of the game. Also in January, Activision, maker of Guitar Hero, reported to have generated one billion dollars in sales in North America within 26 months. At the end of last year, that game had sold 7.5 million units. That number has moved over the 10 million mark. And counting – fast.
Do musical-themed video games like the Guitar Hero series, the new Rock Band game, and an avalanche of recently introduced me-too products from various toy makers do anything to get more people interested in learning to music in the real world? That’s a question that’s been hovering over the business for a while now and the answer is elusive, to say the least.