Activision Pulls the Plug on Guitar Hero Franchise

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Activision Pulls the Plug on Guitar Hero Franchise

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Declining returns on music games prompts savage staff cuts at Activision studios.

Almost everyone has had dreams of being a rock star, but as of yesterday, you shouldn't rely on a videogame to help you fulfill them. Not a videogame from Activision anyway, as it announced last night that it was halting work on the 2011 Guitar Hero release, and disbanding the division at its publishing arm that handled the franchise.

According to Activision, the Guitar Hero franchise had stopped being profitable, and so the decision was made to bring it to an end. It's no secret that the most recent release, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, received a lukewarm response from critics and consumers alike. Warriors of Rock was really just the latest example of a genre in decline however, a far cry from its heyday in the early days of the Guitar Hero franchise.

Besides the Guitar Hero cancellation, there are also rumors of layoffs at Vicarious Visions, which made the Wii version of Warriors of Rock, and FreeStyleGames, which made DJ Hero. Activision has not commented directly on these rumors, but an SEC filing revealed that it is cutting a staggering five hundred staff. These cuts are said to be in "anticipation of a continuing weak environment for casual and music-based games." Activision predicts that these layoffs will cost it between $35 and $50 million in severance pay and other costs.

While the end of Guitar Hero has been coming for a while - thanks, in no small part, to Activision shoving so many of them out of the door - it's hard not to see this as the end of an era. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the job cuts, and we hope they're able to find something else soon.

Source: Gamasutra

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A classic case of franchise overexposure. Activision milked those franchises to death.

Well Activision has no-one but themselves to blame for this really, they over-saturated the market so much it was bound to burn out quickly. This is a direct result of their 'franchises we can exploit year on year' policy and it wouldn't surprise me at all if the same thing happens to Call of Duty in a couple of years time.

I don't think its the last we'll see of Guitar Hero, maybe if they let it cool off for a few years it could be brought back.

Well this is yet more sad news, I had a huge amount of fun playing these types of games at the time as did many people. It felt like a proper old school event bundling together what plastic instruments we could between us and setting up our fake little band in my friends living room.
Those moments will be missed. Hope everyone involved lands on their feet.

About fucking time.

Jellly:
About fucking time.

Whole heartly seconded that. I was very much sick of it after just 5 minutes, I don't know how that game is enjoyable. It's a minigame put together with music, there's a billion other games worth more than the game that was so ..yeah you get where I'm goin' with this.

was wondering when this would be announced

So many games (released in) so little time.

If they had released one every 2 - 3 years or so, then perhaps they would have been Ok to run for a little while longer.

But anyway there will be a replacement in 4 years or so.

I didn't know they were still releasing them, I haven't seen anyone play a Guitar Hero game couple of years.

Darkong:
Well Activision has no-one but themselves to blame for this really, they over-saturated the market so much it was bound to burn out quickly. This is a direct result of their 'franchises we can exploit year on year' policy and it wouldn't surprise me at all of the same thing happens to Call of Duty in a couple of years time.

I don't think its the last we'll see of Guitar Hero, maybe if they let it cool off for a few years it could be brought back.

Also this

This is what comes of Activison's stratergy of "Sequels only" and pumping the market full of similar games of variable quality; you kill your IP. I forsee this kind of, if not death, but decline of the Call of Duty franchise if they continue their policy of yearly updates and formula creation especially if they end up making additional games by other studios ontop of the yearly ones then all the faster.

Jellly:
About fucking time.

You took the words right out of my mouth.

The franchise stopped being fun in 2008, and stopped being original in about 2007.
I think 2009 was what really destroyed the franchise though- there were about five "hero" games released that year.

I think it's strange. We've seen the rebirth, the rise and now the fall in the music/rhythm action genre in about 4 years. From a market point of view it's really interesting.

So which genre are they going to demolish next? I wouldn't be suprised if they wanted to go for a biggy and managed to destroy MMO's through Blizzard. It's not too far fetched either.

Ok Activison, before you pull the plug, please release "Stairway To Heaven" as DLC?

celebrate good times COME ON!

Liked Rock Band better anyways.

marcogodinho:
A classic case of franchise overexposure. Activision milked those franchises to death.

EA predicted this tenfold. Their cashcows are suffering a slow death.

Hopefully Activision is signing it's death sentence like this.

marcogodinho:
A classic case of franchise overexposure. Activision milked those franchises to death.

Exactly, and so they really shouldn't have been surprised.

Sports games have habits of being released every year with minor improvements, but these games were released multiple time in the same damn year.

Rock Band and Guitar Hero could have quite easily have had two games apiece and then continued via DLC. The first game because it's new and hasn't received the feedback necessary to be what it can be, and the second to fix all the mistakes made the first time around and make general improvements. Everything after that was just money grabbing from wherever they could get it.

TehIrishSoap:
Ok Activison, before you pull the plug, please release "Stairway To Heaven" as DLC?

I think you are already late... O_O

z3rostr1fe:

TehIrishSoap:
Ok Activison, before you pull the plug, please release "Stairway To Heaven" as DLC?

I think you are already late... O_O

No Stairway? Denied!

On-topic, I got ten bucks that says motion control eats it next. Kinect and Move are going to be on the scrap heap by year's end. The fads of the last decade are running their course.

They signed their own death warrant when they oversaturated the market like they did. It was fun while it lasted, but the interest died fast.

"anticipation of a continuing weak environment for casual and music-based games."

Damn, Popcap must be quaking in their boots now.

Watch what happens in 2 years time though, when someone releases a music based game and Activision starts slapping them with law-suits.

Jellly:
About fucking time.

Just was I was going to say.
The Guitar Hero franchise has felt like they were beating a dead horse when they released the third game.

Honestly, how can they justify this?

The lack of care and consideration is astounding. They milk a franchise to death and they dispose of the developers they hired to make them? Activision is clearly responsible for those people losing their jobs, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Hopefully we'll have Rock Band for long enough for other competition to arise. It is rather astounding that the music/rhythm games have come and gone so fast. I think a strategy like Harmonix's will give them better longevity, and will maybe benefit from having the market to themselves.

Why couldn't they have gotten Stairway to Heaven BEFORE this happened? Now I'll never get to play it on Guitar Hero.

I was never a fan of anything but the soundtracks. I'm sure the game will be missed by many, but not me.

About damn time, I only really appreciated the second one, after that it was just like an obnoxious retarded child doing anything for attention.

In a certain gaming magazine (not sure if I can say the name here without mod wrath) issue 171: Fallout 3, the editor wrote about the virtual rock opera Harmonix and Red Octane were performing. It just hit me, that this is the obvious next step.

Darkong:
I don't think its the last we'll see of Guitar Hero, maybe if they let it cool off for a few years it could be brought back.

Cue a shady bar late at night four years later. Harmonix is down on it's luck thinking about the days of old, when old pal, Red Octane, comes by for a visit:

Red Octane: Hey man, been a while.
Harmonix: Red Octane? Whadda you want?!
RO: Chill man. I just wanna talk. We're worried about you.
Ha: Who's worried? No one! That's who.
RO: That's not true! I'm worried. Umm...J-Jim's worri-
Ha: WHO'S JIM?!
RO: I WAS ON THE SPOT! I couldn't think of anyone.
Ha: I'm fine. Ya hear me? FINE! *hic* Didn't you play my last game?
RO: I bought three copies.
Ha: Who the hell buy's three copies of the same game?
RO: It was half off, and I needed a quick Christmas present.
Ha: Those were released late November, why are they hal-
RO: Listen, that's not the point. I want the old you back. The old games back.
Ha: Karaoke Revolution?
RO: Little newer.
Ha: Karaoke Revolution...country
RO: Let's get off the Karaoke.
Ha: UGH...it's Guitar Band isn't it?! *hic*
RO: You're not sober are you?
Ha: Don't think so.
RO: Probably for the best. ANYHOW, I got some money left over and a bunch of fans out there still-
Ha: I know, I know, I know what you're trying to...to do, and it's not not going to work.
RO: So no new Guitar Hero then huh?
Ha: Oh...that doesn't involve giraffes at all. I'm down for it.
RO: Great, you remember where the studio is?
Ha: Nope
RO: Good, we moved. Actually...do even remember who I am?
Ha: Gimme three guesses. *hic*
RO: Sure
Ha: Ted Turner
RO: Close. Let's try a company next
Ha: Disney
RO: If only. Remember, we worked with you for a bit. Made some games.
Ha: MTV
RO: Was that Red Octane? Bah, close enough. Anyhow, here's the direction's to the new studio. Be there at 10 Monday.
Ha: What's this for?
RO: You're not gonna remember any of this...
Ha: This wasn't your best idea, huh?
RO: Close to it. Oh well, here goes nothing anyways. Hope to see ya there.
Ha: Where?
RO: Exactly. But it's cool, I figured this would happen, so here's the recording of this conversation.
Ha: Oh shit. You're like Batman. With your gizmos and stuff.
RO: Sure. Whatever you say.

I think that would make for one hell of a plot arc.

Activision killed the genre itself. This has nothing to do with a decline in quality and everything to do with oversaturation.

They turned the Guitar Hero franchise into an overpriced whore (pardon the French) instead of a quirky party-goer. It's what they do, and they seem to have no regrets in doing so.

It's a shame, and I feel sorry for the people that lost their jobs because of this, but honestly I don't think the world will be any worse for losing the franchise. At least for a while. It's not like it couldn't recover in a few years and bring something new, like it should have done in the first place.

That's how the free market works I guess, no profit, no product. Still, Harmonix seems to be doing fine, I wonder if it has anything to do with them making games instead of money.

Also, I wonder if when we look back on the '00s in 20-30 years, if Guitar Hero will be one of those iconic decade specific trends that just kind of disappeared...

I never played past the first two games and even now I still dig them out from time to time. But, as many comments above this one have said, the GH franchise pushed for too much in too short a period. It was only a matter of time before it burned out.

Still sad though. RIP Guitar Hero.

Good. Guitar Hero ceased being able to compete with Rock Band years ago.

marcogodinho:
A classic case of franchise overexposure. Activision milked those franchises to death.

So very true. I'm tempted to say that this may well happen other franchises that they're milking as well, such as CoD. I imagine it'd take a while for that particular brand to go to pieces though.

I was always hoping for a "country hero" or "country band." They use generally the same instruments, but oh well.

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