No More Guitar Hero

Please join me in a moment of silence. Guitar Hero, the pioneering title of the music or “rhythmic gaming” genre, has died.

The plummeting sales of music games is old news, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that Activision has decided to bring both its Guitar Hero and DJ Hero franchises to a definitive end. Announced as part of the company’s periodic earning’s report, the long-running Guitar Hero will have no future titles published, and no more DLC tracks will be made available after those already announced for February. Existing DLC will remain available to purchase — for a while, anyway. A new Guitar Hero title in the series was in the works for later this year, but that title has been scrapped, along with all other future plans.

Activision’s 7 Studios and Freestyle Games — the studios behind Guitar Hero and DJ Hero — have both suffered severe layoffs of at least half their respective staff members. (You gotta feel for those guys that got the pink slip; it’s a sucky time economically to lose your job.)

Activision‘s stated reasons for dissolving the franchise are precisely what you’d expect, as seen in this segment of the company’s earnings report: “We simply cannot make these games profitably based on current economics and demand.”

This news has been a long time coming, but now we’re left to wonder what this will do to the future of music games. Rock Band is still around, but developer Harmonix recently went independent, losing its MTV Games support in a similar cost-cutting measure. Being the only triple-A music game maker on the scene should be beneficial to Harmonix, but the industry is still in a sharp decline. In the immediate future, we haven’t seen the last of Rock Band. Harmonix continues to pump out DLC on a regular basis, and has solid plans for its future, wisely branching out into other types of music games, like Dance Central.

But on the whole, I don’t think the genre is going away for good, though it is certainly scaling way back. With so many game makers jumping ship from costly console game development to the increasingly lucrative iOS/Android and Facebook gaming platforms, I wouldn’t be surprised to see music games take a sharp turn into smaller, “tap here to play” territory, since iOS/Android and Facebook games are so much easier to produce and turn a profit with.

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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