A copy of the disc-only version of Rock Band 3 currently sells for $49.99 at GameStop. According to The Wall Street Journal's sources, that's exactly how much investment group Columbus Nova paid to take Harmonix off Viacom's hands.
MTV parent company Viacom revealed plans to offload the creators of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central in November of last year, a move we attributed to a slow year for game sales and a drop in consumer interest in rhythm games.
In December we learned that private investment group Columbus Nova purchased the developer from Viacom for an undisclosed sum, returning Harmonix to the independently owned development studio it once was.
Citing sources familiar with the transaction, Wall Street's Peter Kafka says the investment group paid a piddling $49.99 for the development studio in total.
It seems ridiculously cheap, but when you take into account that the group also bought all of Harmonix's debt, including licensing fees for the more than 2,000 songs now available for purchase in the Rock Band Music Store, the price begins to level out.
Kafka's sources also indicate that Viacom structured the deal in such a way that it would make somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million in tax benefits out of the transaction. Offloading a ton of financial liability while making back a substantial chunk of the $175 million Viacom originally paid for Harmonix seems like a good deal to me.
We've contacted Harmonix for comment on the rumor, and will update this post should we receive a response.
Update: Harmonix has no comment on this story at this time.
Viacom Sold Rock Band for a Song. A Really, Really Cheap Song. [The Wall Street Journal's MediaMemo]