A franchise that has revolutionized the term 'video game peripheral' has officially been laid to rest. Activision has announced that "continued declines in the music genre" have lead to the cancellation of this year's previously planned Guitar Hero and DJ Hero games and future DLC linked to both franchises.
Some may think that just because the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero series are taking a year off doesn't mean Activision's whole music franchise has been completely discarded, but you're probably wrong. Activision has "disbanded Activision Publishing's Guitar Hero business unit," shutdown 7 Studios, and as previously rumored, has hit Vicarious Visions and Freestyle Games with severe layoffs. This effectively bring an end to both franchises which have certainly helped shape the way the gaming industry is today.
The closure of 7 Studios became apparent after a recent tweet was posted on Twitter from the (now former) employee Alex Beckers. He simply stated that, "Activision is shutting down the Guitar Hero business as of today. This includes my studio. Anyone know of any open associate producer jobs?" Alex was one of many employees laid off however, as all of 7 Studios — originally scooped up by Activision in 2009 — has now officially been closed.
Activision issued the following statement regarding the fate of both Hero franchises during a Q&A posted on DJ Hero's official website:
"Over the past two years, we have seen rapid declines in the music genre, and unfortunately, based on current demand, we simply cannot continue to profitably make these games given the considerable licensing and manufacturing costs."
This statement is pretty straight to the point and leaves little doubt that Activision is done with both series, but some are probably wondering what will happen to the downloadable content that was coming to both DJ Hero and Guitar Hero. A recent Q&A posted on DJ Hero's official website revealed some unsettling news that fans of both franchises are sure to be upset with. When asked if Activision was still going to continue to provide new DLC for both titles the response was a disheartening 'no.'
"We will release the previously announced DLC track and mix packs for February, but - unfortunately - we will not be able to release new DLC packs beyond what we already have."
That's a bit of a bummer for those who invested money on those games (and peripherals) during the holidays, but it's to be expected when dismantling a brand. Existing DLC will still be readily available for now though. Activision was asked if the brand would return and they offered an enthusiastic "never say never" reply, but it's not looking good for the music genre as a whole for the near future. Speaking of the music genre as a whole, Harmonix also issued an official statement pertaining to the recent demise of their biggest competition.
"We were sad to hear yesterday that Activision was discontinuing development on Guitar Hero. Our thoughts are with those who are losing their jobs, and we wish them the best of luck.
The discontinuation of Guitar Hero is discouraging news for fans of the band game genre. As retail sales of Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles have slowed with time, we’ve been focused on building a robust digital platform for music gaming and have recently crested 2,500 songs available for play within Rock Band 3.
It’s been a wild battle of the bands since 2007, but we respect and appreciate all of the hard work and innovation of our peers who have shared the music gaming space with us, and we look forward to rocking in the future."
A very classy farewell from a fierce rival is always nice to see, and while that could be a sign of things to come to Rock Band and the others at Harmonix, they seem very optimistic about the economical demand for their titles. It seems Rock Band will be running the show from here on out in the music genre and with any luck they'll be able to turn things around. If they do well enough to inject some serious life into the fading genre and create some decent profitability then maybe we'll see the return of Axel Steel and his bandmates — unfortunately, at the moment that's a big "if."
Game Rant wishes those who have lost their jobs our most sincere apologies, and we wish them all a speedy reemployment.
Are you surprised Activision has cancelled the franchise? Do you think the music genre can bounce back?