Activision Announces the End of ‘Guitar Hero’ Unit

Posted February 10, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in News

Sad news for ‘Guitar Hero’ fans: The world tour is wrapping up for Activision

After a major drop in unit sales in 2010 and what analysts are considering a decline in the music genre, video game developer Activision Blizzard announced this week that it will cease operations on any ‘Guitar Hero’ projects and will disband the entire “Guitar Hero” business unit. DJ Hero, one of GH’s most recent franchise spin-offs, is also planned to be axed from future developments.

Its last import to home gaming was 2010’s ‘Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock’(or Guitar Hero 6). Desitte lukewarm reviews from critics, the game was initially packaged with Soundgarden’s latest LP, Telephantasm, which became the first album to date to be assigned a Platinum certification from the RIAA due to its tie-in with the pre-packaged game.

Along with the disturing news, Activision announced plans to lay off about 500 workers, roughly 7% of its workforce, associated with  ‘Guitar Hero’ and other games for casual players. The video game publisher also announced it will axe True Crime: Hong Kong, a “shooter” game modeled after Take-Two Interactive Software’s blockbuster ‘Grand Theft Auto’ franchise. ‘True Crime’ already has several titles released under its name (New York City, Streets of LA).

Two years ago, according to reports from the Los Angeles Times, ‘Guitar Hero’ generated more than a billion dollars in revenue for Activision. Now, dancing games and online games have since surpassed the popularity of the music game genre. Still, dancing games like Dance Central and Just Dance 2 are easily associated with the music genre; considered to be part of the rhythm music-themed genre.

Besides Activision’s competition of Harmonix – creators of the popular ‘Rock Band’brand, oversaturation of the market due to a large amount of spin-offs and expansion packages led to a nearly 50 percent drop in revenue for music games published in 2009, causing them to scale-back plans for any future expansions for 2010 and beyond.

“To be blunt, it just wasn’t going to be good enough,” saidEric Hirshberg, head of Activision’s publishing business.

A little glimmer of good news from critics and fans of Guitar Hero: they are hoping that GH and the declining genre will bounce back.

Gieson Cacho at the Bay Area’s A+E Interactive, stated in his commentary about Guitar Hero’s future:

“I’m just holding out some hope that some of these music games and their fans go underground. I hope that there’s a culture built around it like fighting games or maybe a loyal fanbase like ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ keeping it alive. I imagine it may continue in some Los Angeles karaoke club or at a seedy bar in Cleveland — people still playing with faux instruments. By no means is it the end of the music genre, I just expect it to lie dormant for a while until it eventually becomes cool again as these things tend to cycle.”


Activision pulls plug on Guitar Hero, laying off 500 workers – Los Angeles Times
Activision’s 4Q Loss Narrows, Ends ‘Guitar Hero’ – Wall Street Journal
With New Music Games Hitting the Shelves, Can the Rhythm Genre Survive?– HiFi Magazine

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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