Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy
Since the release of Masaya Matsuura’s PaRappa the Rapper (1996), rhythm and play has become increasingly popular. Rigopulos and Egozy’s studio Harmonix’s first two rhythm games, the cult classics Frequency (2001) and Amplitude (2003), were abstract games with trance-like visuals matched to a gameplay of tight precision. Rhythmic button taps activate different instruments in pop songs, giving the player the feeling of being both performer and producer.
Despite critical acclaim, both titles failed to perform commercially. Initially, when Rigopulos had pitched Frequency to Microsoft, vice-president of game publishing Ed Fries had told him that no rhythm game would succeed without a peripheral. A subsequent and fortuitous meeting with the founders of Red Octane, Kai and Charles Huang, who were designing plastic guitar controllers, brought Harmonix the chance to put their experience with compelling beat-match gameplay to work and led to the release of Guitar Hero (2005), a peripheral-based rhythm game.