After bleeding the genre completely dry, Activision has decided that it is no longer fiscally viable to continue publishing entries in the Guitar Hero series. This news was confirmed by CEO Bobby Kotick during recent earning reports. Kotick also said that True Crime will be canned.
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 also will stop development on True Crime: Hong Kong. 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.
Guitar Hero may have started the music gaming genre as we know it today, but they are absolutely the company that managed to turn it from incredibly enticing to entirely annoying. Despite the best efforts of Rock Band and the folks at Harmonix, Activision managed to completely saturate the market for the music genre… to the point of exhaustion and financial impossibility.
For perspective: since late 2005, Activision has released 15 different versions of Guitar Hero. Rock Band? Since 2007, Rock Band has seen seven different iterations across all platforms. Harmonix and former publisher EA are definitely guilty of milking the brand as well, but Activision did more than double with practically half the innovation.
Genre fatigue has set in. MTV Games has gotten rid of Harmonix; the developers purchased themselves and are now independent. The music genre simply isn’t the guaranteed money maker that it was less than five years ago. Critics, fans and news junkies will point towards oversaturation as the perpetrator of this change, and Activision definitely took the reins on that cause.
Since Activision now considers the music genre a fiscal wasteland, what does that spell for Rock Band and Harmonix? Will the company continue to support their champion title? Odds are, they will. Harmonix has committed themselves to constantly refreshing the music game experience. They proved that with the addition of Pro Mode in Rock Band 3.
Plus, having a game like Dance Central sell like gangbusters for the Kinect is absolutely helping Harmonix.