Did you hear that? It’s the fat lady, singing her heart out.
Activision released a bombshell today during their latest earnings report by announcing that the once-vaunted Guitar Hero franchise will be unceremoniously put to rest for the forseeable future.
“Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing’s Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011,” the company said in a statement.
It’s just the latest bad news to hit the ailing music game genre. The most recent Guitar Hero game, Warriors of Rock, failed to ignite the sales charts, and in December of 2010, media giant Viacom sold off Rock Band developer Harmonix. Just last week, longtime Rock Band publisher MTV Games was officially shut down.
In addition to Guitar Hero, Activision has halted development on its True Crime: Hong Kong action game.
“These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences,” they explained.
In a conference call, Activision said about 500 employees — roughly 7% of its work force — will be laid off by the cancellations.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as Activision also revealed plans to support its Call of Duty franchise by forming a new internal studio. Dubbed “Beachhead,” the team is tasked with creating a “best-in-class online community, exclusive content, and a suite of services” for the best-selling shooter series. The company will also be investing in a new online multiplayer game from World of WarCraft makers Blizzard.
First released on 2005 for the Playstation 2, Guitar Hero ushered in a lucrative era of music gaming. According to Activision, its 2007 iteration, Guitar Hero III, set an industry record by being the first video game to earn over $1 billion in retail sales. It’s all been downhill from there, however, as the one-two punch of an economic downturn and an oversaturated music game market resulted in stagnant sales and dwindling consumer interest in the franchise.
by: Ben Silverman