Newly unearthed information from developers working on the game suggests that Activision was testing out ideas for a Guitar Hero MMO where players would engage in combat via dance battle.
At the peak of its popularity, the Guitar Hero series was seen as a major cash-cow for its publisher Activision, as as such a steady stream of sequels and spin-offs was lined up. We saw DJ Hero and Band Hero attempt to bring new life to the franchise — but a planned MMO installment never saw release.
News of the Guitar Hero MMO comes via the ever-inquisitive Unseen64, a site committed to digging through video game history to see what could have been. According to its report, it was DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games that came up with the idea behind the ambitious project.
As the Hero franchise continued to explore different avenues, Freestyle Games pitched a web-based component that would bring these many disparate experiences together. Dutch development house Digital Playground was then brought on board to bring the concept to fruition.
Given the working title Hero World, the game would allow players to import their character from the console version of DJ Hero 2 — the first title set to be intertwined with the MMO — or create a new avatar from scratch. From there, they would be tasked with running their own nightclub, ‘hiring’ console players to perform.
The plan was for this content to be completely platform-agnostic, linking together player bases on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. Given recent discussions on the subject, this may well have been one of the nails in the coffin of Hero World, even if it would perhaps be an easier system to implement today.
The MMO would reportedly also feature a turn-based dance battle combat system, the ability for players to create their own songs and a Facebook spin-off that centred around managing a music festival. All in all, it seems like a lot of big idea, undermined by the fact that the franchise was already in decline.
By all accounts, last year’s Guitar Hero Live couldn’t muster up strong enough sales to match its high quality, leaving the rhythm action series in limbo once again. In short, we’ll be lucky to see another instalment hit shelves, never mind something as risky as an MMO.
That being said, there’s certainly something prescient about the concept underpinning Hero World. Games like The Division and Destiny have demonstrated that console gamers are interested in MMO-like interconnected experiences — but perhaps the Guitar Hero franchise wasn’t the best basis for such a release.