Metallica front man James Hetfield and former Yahoo COO Dan Rosensweig may not appear to have much in common but both have great hope for the future of Guitar Hero - albeit for entirely different reasons.
Rosensweig has been appointed as President and CEO of RedOctane, the Activision-owned publisher of the hit Guitar Hero franchise. He comes to the job from equity firm Quadrangle Group, which he joined in 2006 after leaving his position at Yahoo. While at Yahoo, Rosensweig worked with current Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who was also on the company board at the time. Former president and CEO Kai Huang, who co-founded RedOctane along with his brother Charles in 1999, will continue to work at the company, reporting to Rosensweig.
"I had the great pleasure of working with Dan during his tenure at Yahoo," Kotick said. "Dan has a rare combination of deep business expertise, entrepreneurial instincts and an incredible passion for music. We are looking forward to leveraging his proven online experience to build upon the billions of hours of entertainment we deliver each year in the Guitar Hero network."
"I am extremely excited for this opportunity to work with the talented Guitar Hero team, which has transformed the interactive entertainment landscape," Rosensweig said. "With a platform and content that universally engages a wide range of audiences, Guitar Hero has incredible growth potential. I look forward to continuing to develop Guitar Hero into an even more successful enterprise."
Despite concerns of potential oversaturation, Activision has several Hero-related titles in the works for release in 2009, including Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits, Guitar Hero: Modern Hits, Hard Rock Van Halen, Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, Band Hero and a new, unnamed Guitar Hero game for the Nintendo DS. It's a bit much to swallow but the Guitar Hero franchise is one of Activision's most lucrative and the company seems determine to exploit it as thoroughly and effectively as possible.
But where Activision executives see an endless river of dollar signs, Metallica guitarist and lead singer James Hetfield sees something else: A new way to introduce kids to the world of music. "I think Guitar Hero is a great gateway drug to real music," he told Rolling Stone (via Edge). "If you've got the music bug, nothing's gonna stop you. It's your destiny to express your gift."
"Lars' [Ulrich, Metallica's drummer] kid came up to me and says, 'You know what my favorite song is? "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain!'," he continued. "Where did you hear that? 'It was on Guitar Hero'."