While it looked as though the Guitar Hero franchise had struck its final chord, it apparently has at least one mind-boggling trait in common with Justin Bieber. It just won’t go away. According to Activision, the perceived notion that the series has been completely cancelled is far from the truth, with the publisher still seeing a bountiful future for the music franchise.
These remarks come after a fairly recent announcement that Activision would no longer be developing Guitar Hero games for 2011, and would be getting rid of the division that handled the franchise.
News that the series isn’t completely dead shouldn’t surprise too many gamers.
After all, Guitar Hero is the franchise that ignited the plastic instrument craze and made the rhythm-music genre a staple of mainstream party gaming. It unfortunately just fell under the weight of its own bloat, a fate whose blame can be placed squarely at the feet of publisher Activision.
In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Activision head of developer relations Dan Winters said that the fat lady hasn’t quite sung her last five-star, full band song on Guitar Hero just yet.
Here’s what he had to say:
"Actually, just to clarify, we're just putting Guitar Hero on hiatus, we're not ending it. We're releasing products out of the vault - we'll continue to sustain the channel, the brand won't go away. We're just not making a new one for next year, that's all."
With numerous releases of less-than-spectacular Guitar Hero titles coming each year since Activision took control of the brand, not to mention heavy competition from Harmonix’s Rock Band series, it would be an understatement to say that consumer interest in virtual rocking took a sharp decline.
As Activision continues to alter their business model to concentrate on games that they feel will yield the best financial returns, a game like Guitar Hero will likely need to be retooled in order to rekindle buyer interest. But remember, Guitar Hero isn't the only brand that the publisher is holding out hope for.
Unfortunately, some of Winters’ other comments in regard to the cancellation of United Front Game’s True Crime: Hong Kong seem to show an Activision that still cares more about cashing checks than producing quality games. His statements describe a game that they felt would have received solid critical praise, but they didn’t have confidence in “the scale of the opportunity.”
Fans of all things rock can breathe an easy sigh of relief, but these comments are also a stark reminder that one of the largest video game publishers on the planet is more interested in making money and pleasing shareholders than delivering a broad variety of quality content to gamers.
Does it sound like Activision is making a smart play with Guitar Hero? Are they wisely letting the market cool down and relieve some of the pressure of music genre overexposure? How do you think this type of 'profits first' thinking will affect the industry?
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