Thirty-nine of the approximately 300 employees at Harmonix, development studio of the Rock Band series, were laid off from the company today, in a move said to result from a shift in game-testing rather than a reflection on game sales.
"We can confirm that 39 positions were eliminated today at Harmonix as part of re-structuring to better align our staffing to best suit our product development plans and schedules moving forward," an MTV Games / Harmonix spokesperson told Kotaku in an e-mailed statement. "Those affected were primarily in QA. The others affected ranged from administrative to other various roles within the company."
Kotaku received word independently that at least one staff designer was among those laid off.
But the Rock Band publisher indicates that sales of Rock Band were not a factor, pointing to a shift in out-sourced and part-time QA at Harmonix rather than full-time testers.
The Beatles: Rock Band has sold more than a million copies worldwide according to the company, though the music gaming category has been softer this year. At an investors conference in New York yesterday, EA CEO John Riccitiello, whose company distributes Rock Band, said that packaged sales of Rock Band (meaning discs and instruments, not the vigorously downloaded add-on songs) was down by "hundreds of millions of dollars." Downloaded songs remain hot, with more than 60 million songs in Rock Band's 1000-song library paid for and downloaded date, according to MTV.