Thursday, February 10, 2011

End of Guitar Hero

At a recent conference to discuss Activision's 4th quarter earnings, the publisher dropped some big news. No more Guitar Hero. No more DJ Hero. And True Crime: Hong Kong has been canceled. That's a lot of stuff to drop.

The long and short of it is Activision feels that the music genre field that they have dominated for so long is declining. DJ Hero didn't take off as well as expected. So best to cut the losses on the 2011 GH rendition and get out while they can. Still, that's a pretty big leap of faith to be taking. In regards to True Crime, the company felt that the return on the product would not yield as much as what would need to be invested into it to make it a good game.

While the music genre has been in a decline, it hasn't been at the rapid pace Activision has made it out to be. At least, in my opinion. Is it in decline? Yes. But there are a number of dancing and singing games for the Wii that have been doing quite well. What really needs to be done is a revitalization of the instrument game with new material. Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles are always a big sell during the holiday season. It's always out of stock at my local electronic stores from November-February. But what I think started the decline was the over-saturation of the market. Guitar Hero and Rock Band were fine as they were. But then Activision introduced DJ Hero. Then there was Band Hero. And Rock God. And there are probably 10 other games that I haven't mentioned that follow the same formula. There are just too many of the same game that there is very little to distinguish one from another. Keith Stuart on the UK's Guardian hits this point quite well. Coupled with high bundle prices and lack of new content is causing this particular sub-genre to fall.

If there's one thing that GH did well was their guitar peripheral. They were the first and they managed to get the guitar just right. What they lacked was originality. Every game is the same set of songs and it took them 4 games before you could put a band together. Rock Band only took one, and I think that's why it managed to overtake GH in the end. Rock Band gave you more genre choices, more music updates, and better online play options. While I'm a fan of the GH guitar, Rock Band is, overall, a better game. Not to mention exclusivity of Beatles music? Win right there. GH did a poor attempt with Green Day and Aerosmith. If Rock Band can do an amazing followup to the Beatles, they'll secure themselves in this genre for a while without having to back down like Activision. (Hint, hint Led Zepplin please!) But truthfully, Rock Band and Activision need to open up their music games to more then just rock, "punk", and alternative. Put that new keytar to use and give us a rush of 80's, pop, and dance. It seems silly, but it'll be necessary to stay up to day with today's market.

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