Harmonix lays off 39 people

Harmonix let go of 13% of its staff today in a surprising turn, given the success of The Beatles: Rock Band and that fact that we all think of Harmonix as the video-game industry's own utopian paradise in which nothing ever goes wrong.

The official statement is that the layoffs were part of "re-structuring to better align our staffing to best suit our product development plans and schedules moving forward," and that most of the positions cut were in QA -- except we know that at least one staff designer got a pink slip as well. Apparently this "re-structuring" won't affect future projects, except for the part where none of those people will be there to, uh, help with said projects.

We suspected the QA cut had something to do with Harmonix's new Rock Band Network. Will users be invited - nay, expected - to perform free QA work on songs, once the developer tools are made available? Commenter Matthew Harrington asked the same question over at Joystiq, and was told in return by commenter Copa that he is a "fucking idiot." True, it doesn't seem very Harmonix-y to expect gamers to do their grunt work, but laying off 39 people didn't feel Harmonix-y either - especially if they're not actually in dire financial straits.

Lastly, apparently these layoffs have nothing to do with the EA layoffs. Good to hear, we guess, but if cutting these jobs wasn't an emergency, couldn't Harmonix have waited until after the holidays?

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