RedOctane was founded in 1999 by Kai Huang and Charles Huang and is best known for its Guitar Hero games. During August of 1999, they began operation as the world's first online video game rental service. In 2000 the company expanded into premium video game accessories, starting first with the RedOctane dance mat which greatly improved upon the existing products at the time. They would later become better known for the Ignition dance pads and other video game accessories including arcade joysticks, drums, and guitars for existing music games.
After realizing that accessory sales were tied to the release schedule of publishers' game launches, in June 2005 RedOctane expanded into publishing original video games. Their first published title was a PlayStation 2 version of In The Groove, a dancing game. Developed by Roxor Games, In The Groove was already established in arcades.
RedOctane then teamed up with developer Harmonix Music Systems to release Guitar Hero in November 2005 for the PlayStation 2. The music game proved extremely popular, consisting of over 30 licensed tracks playable with a custom-designed guitar peripheral. The game was well-received by critics and fans, spawning a successful sequel in 2006 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. Continuing installments of series are currently slated to appear on several other consoles. Their theory was that music games had yet to be introduced to a mass market in the US and that a rock based game with a guitar game accessory combination would be the best way to introduce these types of games.
In May 2006, video game publisher Activision announced plans to acquire RedOctane, completing the deal on June 6, 2006. Activision reportedly paid RedOctane $99.9 million in cash and common stock in the acquisition.
After the Activision buy-out and a split from Harmonix, who went on to develop competing game Rock Band, RedOctane utilized Activision owned Neversoft, the team responsible for the Tony Hawk skateboarding video game franchise, to take the helm on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, which became available in November 2007.
Gaming news site Kotaku calls Guitar Hero an "instant cult classic". In the 26 months since first release, Guitar Hero has generated over $1B in sales.
RedOctane's last game is called Guitar Hero World Tour and was released in October of 2008.