Harmonix's main product, Guitar Hero, is a console game developed for Sony's PlayStation 2 that equips players with a simulator that looks like a guitar while promising them the ability to feel like a rock star without knowing how to play music or even leaving their bedroom.
The goals of the deal, which is to be announced Friday, are broader than putting the MTV logo on a Harmonix game box: For instance, the company wants to offer visitors to its Web sites, its new virtual worldsthe ability to play along with, or remix, their favorite songs.
"It is about people coming to MTV who areon deeper and deeper levels," said Christina Norman, the president of MTV. "It's not just about wearing the T-shirt."
Norman insisted that, particularly with its spin-off channels and Web offshoots. "Realistically speaking, there is more music available on all of the platforms of MTV--wherever the audience wants it--than there has ever been before," she said in an interview.
The purchase of Harmonix by MTV Networks, the cable-programming unit of Viacom, is the second music-related digital acquisition by a media conglomerate recently. Last week,, a seller of ring tones and other products for mobile phones, for $188 million.
In addition to Guitar Hero, Harmonix has developed a line of karaoke game prograMTV executives said they hoped to promote those programs, but also make them available on its Web sites and in VMTV, the digital virtual world it is introducing next year.
Harmonix is based in Cambridge, Mass., and was founded by Alex Rigopulos, its chief executive, and Eran Egozy, its chief technology officer, who are both staying with the company.