Digital Top Stories

Activision axes Guitar Hero

By | Published on Thursday 10 February 2011

Guitar Hero

You remember how three years ago everyone was saying that the then burgeoning music games market was going to save the record industry? Well, not everyone. But some people. Idiots mainly. Well, anyway, ‘Guitar Hero’ has been axed due to slumping sales, so that prediction worked out well, didn’t it?

Yes, gaming giant Activision yesterday announced it was halting development on its ‘Guitar Hero’ franchise and disbanding the business unit which oversees the game. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg told investors that while the most recent version of ‘Guitar Hero’ and the second edition of its sister title ‘DJ Hero’ both won critical acclaim, sales of both were disappointing. Coupled with the high licensing costs associated with such games, it made the development and release of future editions impractical, he added.

Meanwhile a statement from the company said: “Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing’s ‘Guitar Hero’ business unit and discontinue development on its ‘Guitar Hero’ game for 2011”.

It’s not clear what this means for the future development of ‘DJ Hero’, though Eurogamer has reported that the developers of that particular franchise, Freestyle Games, have also just undergone a round of “severe layoffs”.

Activision will continue to operate the platform that enables players to download new tracks into their existing ‘Guitar Hero’ games, with Hirshberg adding: “We’ll focus our time and energies on marketing and supporting our strong catalogue of titles and downloadable content, especially to new consumers as the installed base for hardware continues to grow”.

The demise of ‘Guitar Hero’ follows Viacom’s previously reported decision to also bail on the pretend-to-play video games market. As previously reported, it put Harmonix, the studio behind ‘Guitar Hero’ rival ‘Rock Band’, up for sale last November. A sale was completed in late December, with a newly created company backed by investment firm Columbus Nova taking ownership of the games venture.

According to Wall Street Journal the buyers might have gained ownership of the ‘Rock Band’ studio and brand for a mere fifty dollars, though they will have taken on all liabilities associated with Harmonix. The newly independent games firm recently downsized its workforce by a reported 12%, while Viacom has completely shut its MTV Games unit, which actually published the ‘Rock Band’ games on behalf of its then sister company.

So, the end of an era in music gaming, really.

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