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Music Games

Activision Axes Guitar Hero 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the death-of-a-genre dept.
jtillots writes "Activision Blizzard has canceled the Guitar Hero franchise, citing 'declining revenue of the music game genre.' Also on the chopping block was DJ Hero and True Crime. Fat_bot put it best — it's the new Day the Music Died." This comes only a few months after Viacom dropped Rock Band developer Harmonix for similar reasons, and less than a week after they closed MTV Games altogether.
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Activision Axes Guitar Hero

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  • until Jimmy Page dies and they can finally get the rights to what everyone always wanted out of this genre.
  • And nothing of value was lost.

  • by mvar (1386987)
    I recall a time when Guitar Hero was one of the best selling games around
    • Re:Weird (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tukz (664339) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @04:18AM (#35159812) Journal

      And then they kept fucking the customers over, by releasing new games over and over, with nothing more but new songs in em and a small feature tweak that easily could had been sold as DLC.

      Rock Band was actually on the right track, Guitar Hero was not.
      But Guitar Hero ruined it for everyone else, by giving the entire thing a bad reputation.

      • by grantek (979387)
        BTW, everyone on the internet should remember this (an example of a game that's very hard to pirate due to proprietary hardware) the next time a big media corporation wails on about piracy killing them.
        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by Tukz (664339)

          So you want companies to start including expensive custom hardware with their games?
          That'll surely kill the market.

          Besides, when you own the hardware, you can pirate all the other games easily.
          Buy Guitar Hero World Tour, full set with drums, guitar etc, and you can pirate Rock Band 1 2 3, Guitar Hero 3, 5 and all the band version.

          So not really the best argument, unless they make the hardware incompatible with each version, which would be very retarded.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Rock Band may or may not be over. There is certainly room for at least one music game franchise. With this new development we could see Rock Band bought up and continued. I certainly hope so anyway. I was waiting for the Strat to come out before I bought it because I don't want a fake guitar at any price. In fact I have several guitar hero games and a stupid plastic guitar that I got when I bought my used 360 and I have not plugged the guitar in ONCE nor even considered slotting any of the games into my con

      • Re:Weird (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 10, 2011 @09:31AM (#35161210)

        This is true, 100 times over. The key has always been Harmonix: Harmonix developed Guitar Hero 1 and 2, which were great. Activision then bought the franchise, ditched Harmonix, and released a barrage of crappy Guitar Hero games. Harmonix went on to create Rock Band, and Activision copied the band concept. The only reason Activision had a few sales successes after ditching Harmonix is because they were literally riding the reputation Harmonix had built for the series with the first two incarnations.

        It simply can't be said enough - Harmonix knows how to make appealing music games, but Activision has nearly run the entire genre into the ground.

    • by c.r.o.c.o (123083)

      My gf bought the latest edition of Guitar Hero, I think it's called Warriors of Rock. How can I put this mildly? The song selection is simply garbage. Maybe they used up all the good songs in the previous editions of Guitar Hero, I don't know. But I'm positive this is the reason it had such poor sales.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The song selection is simply garbage.

        That may have been the result of the usual media corporations' greed. Those who manage the rights want to squeeze as much out of their licensees as they can, even if it ruins them in the long run. The more popular those music games got, the more the MAFIA demanded. Which in turn caused the game producers to go with cheaper, lesser-known, 3rd rate songs.

        Another modern revenue stream killed by the music industry's greed, I guess. At least they're sticking to what they're best at ;)

      • by X-chan (782883)
        I own all Guitar Hero from the 3rd installment to the 6th one (yes I'm a sucker for music games), and my favorite games are the 3rd and the 6th one. Mostly for the tracklist which is a matter of personal taste. But since each game doesn't add much beside new songs, it's harder to sell new games, especially since it's annoying to swap games to play your favorite songs. You can find some songs from older games as DLC, but what would have made the game much better would have been the possibility to copy songs
    • If I had to guess, I'd say Guitar Hero was hosed by a double-edged sword:

      1. Sequalities and competition
      2. Higher costs to license music.

      Of course, there's no way to know for certainty without being in the meeting where the decision was made. That said, these two things would probably undercut profits significantly.

      -DeAngelo
      www.braincano.com
    • Re:Weird (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:16AM (#35160046)

      Yes, just like Call of Duty now, another Activision owned franchise.

      I bet in a few years time CoD goes the same way, because since CoD4: Modern Warfare it's just been declining. CoD5: World at War was okay, CoD6: MW2 wasn't terrible but was a far cry from the last two, and then the latest, Black Ops, was just terrible.

      Sales have still been on the up for the franchise, but I bet it wont last, people will only take a few crappy games in a row before they give up.

      Activision seems exceptionally good at destroying franchises. At least EA, for all the monotony of many of it's yearly franchises, still manages to keep them going and keep them selling way in the long run for those that do like them.

      • by zstlaw (910185)

        I interviewed at Activision back in the 90s after working at another more innovative game company. The first thing they told me was "We don't want new ideas - we have a library of concepts like Quake, Pitfall, and Mech Warrior that we need to commoditize."

        Activision has always been about taking something of worth then killing it by trying to wring every last cent from its decaying corpse. They do not understand R&D nor investment in product lines to keep them fresh and productive.

        It took them less tha

        • Actually in the beginning, the David Crane days, Activision was pretty innovative. Pitfall for instance was one of the first jump and runs using multiple screens for scenarii it probably was the first. River Raid, Excellent tile, basically every game in those days brought out by Activision was innovative. But so was EA when they called themselves Electronic Arts instead of EA.
          So what happened in between. The beancounters took over. Games suddenly were franchises and love for games has been replaced with sto

    • by SoopahMan (706062)

      That was prior to Harmonix selling Guitar Hero to Activision. Guitar Hero 3 was Activision's first title - it brought a lot more big name bands to the game than Harmonix had mustered, and a slightly worse interface. Each subsequent title somehow managed to make the interface more and more infuriating to deal with, while Harmonix kept making Rock Band easier and easier to deal with.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        It's probably mostly the source music but after taking a long break from GH|RB and then picking up RB:Beatles and then later going back to GH (2 starting to show signs, Jordan, I'm looking at you, though thankfully an 'optional' track and there just for the challenge so it is ok, and in full effect in 3 even in the main tracks) the lack of fret wankery in RB:Beatles is very evident.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      I recall a reading a quote from some Activision guy stating that Guitar Hero was "the future of the music industry", and that it was a key new way that people would enjoy music. It sounded like a crock of shit then, and its only got funnier over time.

      Shame they ragged it to death so quickly, rather than letting have a long, low intensity lifespan that we could still be enjoying today.

  • I think future generations will look back on the days where everyone thought 'Guitar Hero' was 'cool' much in the same way as my generation looks back at the days where 'air guitar' was cool: with a shudder of embarrassment.

    • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:02AM (#35159980) Homepage Journal

      Obligatory XKCD. [xkcd.com] It's OK that you don't get it, but those of us who like music games will keep having fun even if you don't think it's "cool".

      • by Tukz (664339) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:31AM (#35160116) Journal

        +1

        I hear so many people do exactly what they show in XKCD.
        They bitch and moan about how it's "not really playing an instrument".

        Well, playing GT5 isn't really "driving a car", but it's still fun and entertaining.

        I still break out my plastic guitar now and then, to look like a retard while trying to play Through the Fire and Flames, by Dragonforce.
        I usually end up smashing something, but it's fun none the less.

        • I dunno... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:15AM (#35160276) Journal

          I dunno, there's a whole industry of force-feedback steering wheels and pedals and whatnot to make it at least the same kind of thing. You know, you turn a wheel, the car turns.

          And let me stress that part again: the car turns when _you_ turn the wheel. In other words, wake me up when such a game at least plays the tune _you_ play, instead of just making you press buttons on cue to a tune that keeps playing the same no matter what you do.

          If you want a GT5 equivalent, let's call it Race Car Hero, it would involve watching a pre-recorded race that happens the same no matter what you do, and you just have to press the buttons you're told to press while watching it. But otherwise if you press right instead of left when told, you lose some points but the car on the screen still does the pre-recorded left turn.I think pretty much everyone would agree that such a game would be frakking retarded.

          • by Bert64 (520050)

            There were some games like that, back in the early days of cd based consoles it was common to stream (poor quality) video from cd, overlay a minimal level of interaction on top and call it a game.

            • by Moraelin (679338)

              Well, there still are lightgun shooters on rails like that, where you just point the gun at the screen, but otherwise the route and enemies popping up and all is pre-scripted and happens without any input from you.

              Still, even then, an enemy falls over when you shoot it, reloads when you shoot outside the screen, the game pauses until you finish an enemy or faceplant, etc. And often you have other options too, like seeing your character duck behind cover when you press or release some key on the gun. It's st

              • Re:I dunno... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by mr_gorkajuice (1347383) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @09:21AM (#35161136)

                It's still not quite the kind of interaction in Guitar Hero. If it were, the enemy would get shot in the head even if you aim at something else, you just wouldn't get the points.

                That part right there makes it kinda obvious that you don't know what you're talking about. I guess you're just one of those angry old men, who wish young lads would pick up a real instrument instead.
                GH is not, and was never meant to be, an alternative to real instruments. It's just entertainment. Exactly like GT5. If it doesn't entertain you, don't play it. So far though, *everyone* I've actually seen playing the game has had fun with it. This includes people with actual instrumental skills.
                I know people who don't like the game. None of them tried playing. They looked at the controller, said "Yeah ok, that's retarded, I'm not touching that", and decided that they were apparently surrounded by retards.
                Your loss.

                • by Moraelin (679338)

                  hat part right there makes it kinda obvious that you don't know what you're talking about.

                  Really? Well, I trust you'll enlighten me then.

                  I guess you're just one of those angry old men, who wish young lads would pick up a real instrument instead.

                  Ah, right, the appeal to motives fallacy. I was wondering when the usual fanboy bullshit pops up.

                  No, I never picked an instrument myself. I'm just sick and tired of the endless stream of bullshit that happens about those games. If you want to play a button-mashing ga

          • by RoverDaddy (869116) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:12AM (#35160704) Homepage
            Gee, in most race car games I've seen, you can sideswipe the walls, crash into other drivers, spin out, etc, and you aren't immediately disabled, dead or permanently out of the race. The game is forgiving -on purpose-. And by they way, in GH and RB, if you don't push the buttons, the tune does NOT keep on playing. Your errors screw up the music you hear, until eventually the performer 'fails' and the band is booed off the stage. Of course it's artificial - doesn't mean it's not fun.

            Your Race Car Hero game sounds a lot like Dragon's Lair, which boiled down to nothing more than 'push the correct button at the beep'. Yet that game did pretty well for it's time.
            • by Moraelin (679338)

              Keywords: for its time.

            • by Nick Ives (317)

              Actually most racing simulations do have damage models: a bad crash will put you out of the race.

              A racing simulation RPG where you could die or be injured would be quite interesting and would probably appeal to the hardcore sim crowd.

          • Yes, boiled down to its essence, rhythm games are just pressing buttons to a color on the screen. But if you want to argue usefulness, players are learning rhythm to different beats as they are learning to step up and step down on fake instruments. These skills do transfer over to playing an instrument.

            But that's not really the point. The really fun thing about these types of games is that you get a whole bunch of different people who DO NOT play video games and have great time. It's a SOCIAL experience

          • by Carewolf (581105)

            If you want a GT5 equivalent, let's call it Race Car Hero, it would involve watching a pre-recorded race that happens the same no matter what you do, and you just have to press the buttons you're told to press while watching it. But otherwise if you press right instead of left when told, you lose some points but the car on the screen still does the pre-recorded left turn.I think pretty much everyone would agree that such a game would be frakking retarded.

            That sounds almost like called quick time events. It

      • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
        I never understood the GH and RB haters that shunned the idea of playing a "fake guitar" but saw absolutely nothing wrong with using a plastic controller that amounted to making fake dudes run around and kill each other with fake guns.
        • I don't think its the fake guitar aspect of it, but the fact that it was milked into a dry carcass so quickly. The overexposure has left a bitter taste in people's mouth. I feel they could have made successful games every couple years for two decades or more if they didn't flood the market and turn it into a gimmick.

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          Well, one difference is that you could actually go out and buy a guitar and be in a band quite easily, whereas to go out and actually kill people would mean joining the army and possibly hurting yourself.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:33AM (#35161720)

      No one ever thought air guitar was cool. Saying "the days where 'air guitar' was cool" is kind of like saying "the days when MC Hammer was hardcore" or "the days when Bret Michaels was respected by headbangers."

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Air guitar is OK up to the point where people start buying fake plastic guitars...oh, hang on.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:47AM (#35161866) Homepage

      I think future generations will look back on the days where everyone thought 'Guitar Hero' was 'cool' much in the same way as my generation looks back at the days where 'air guitar' was cool: with a shudder of embarrassment.

      *shrug* Like it or hate it, from my perspective, I credit Guitar Hero et al with teaching me to understand the musicality of a lot of music I had previously been unable to listen to.

      I didn't grow up listening to punk, metal, or alternative -- as a result, I found them to be overly dissonant with no clear structure or rhythm. These games taught me to appreciate what was actually going on in there, and as a result, my music tastes have expanded to encompass a lot more things (and as a result, buy a lot of CDs I'd never have considered).

      From that perspective, I am quite happy for the time I spent playing Guitar Hero -- I sure as hell wouldn't have bought any Rise Against or Social Distortion before playing those games.

    • I never would have thought that there would be so many Guitar Hero 'players' at /. ; ) Sorry if I offended.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I see what you did there.

  • Maybe its just that when you have played guitar hero to one song, you have played'em all.

    • by Tukz (664339)

      I'd suggest you try something new.
      Try googling "Frets on Fire".

      It's anopen source "Guitar Hero" variant for PC, with an unlimited music library.
      Make your own if you aren't satisfied.

      I actually think it pre dates Guitar Hero, but I am not sure on that, so don't hold that against me.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      That's Guitar Hero's ultimate downfall. I have most of the Guitar Heros, but now that I've worked my way up to playing on expert the songs do get to the stage where they are all very similar.

      Hence Rock Band! The drums were a lot of fun, the keys are a lot of fun, playing the various instruments in a band is a lot of fun. More importantly, Guitar Pro! a real Fender Stratocastor to plug into the Wii and play every single note as it is intended. That I am looking forward to. It'll move guitar hero from a g
  • ,,, they haven't axed This! [gizmodo.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/activision-reports-sluggish-sales-for-sousaphone-h,2246/

      Activision Reports Sluggish Sales For Sousaphone Hero August 1, 2007 | ISSUE 4331

      08.06.09 SANTA MONICA, CA—Despite a catchy 1890s soundtrack and realistic-feeling game play, Sousaphone Hero, the third installment of Activision's massively popular Guitar Hero video game franchise, sold a mere 52 copies in the United States in its opening week, the company reported Monday.

      Enlarge Image"In the wake of Guitar Hero's s

  • they locked my save game file, so I couldn't back it up.

    I'd bought GH 1, 2, 3, then World Tour. When my PS3 WT save couldn't be backed up I was so annoyed I hardly played it, and totally lost interest in it. As far as I'm concerned they shot themselves in the foot with that one, and I'm always wary if buying Activision games now.

  • I have friends who work for FreeStyleGames. They found out last night via the Internet that they were probably going to be made redundant today. In my humble opinion, that kind of treatment from Activision is pretty disgraceful.
  • by mrspecialhead (211339) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:07AM (#35160012)

    That's what happens when you rapid-fire iterate on new content in the same template with no significant innovations for extended periods of time.

    Sad thing is, from a business perspective, they did a great job and probably wouldn't change a thing if they could go back and do it over. At least not besides somehow managing to get those significant innovations magically and without significant investment to impact their bottom line in the short term.

    Okay Harmonix, that one's done. What's the next cool design epiphany?

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      That's a bit just, yet a bit unfair at the same time. There's was a major change half way through where the music stopped being .... crap and started being recorded from the original tapes making it sound genuine. It was a leap forward for Guitar Hero In some cases like Metallica Guitar Hero actually had the best mastered version of a Metallica song around. Much better than the raped CD release which was compressed to the point of distortion and just gave people listening brain damage. That said after their
      • Interesting. My daughter isn't particularly interested in video games. Bust she's asking for the RB Beatles. Maybe there is a market for add-ons for individual groups inside the application.

        Sort of like an in-app purchase to buy albums within RB or GH?

        As a caveat, she's only seven.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)
          In some cases this already exists, just too few. The online Rock Band and Guitar Hero databases are HUGE, but the songs cost more than at the iTunes store. I think Metallica did something similar. Released their latest album as a CD and as a Guitar Hero download at the same time.

          Kudos, your daughter has a good taste in music. :-)
  • by Skuto (171945) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:37AM (#35160142) Homepage

    When I got a Wii, the first thing I ran out to buy for it was Guitar Hero. I'd seen the Youtube movies, and I knew I wanted it. And boy, did I enjoy playing it!

    Compared to learning to play a real guitar, Guitar Hero is way easier, gives faster feedback, and much better results. Of course it's nowhere close to the real thing, but for people who have no time, patience or talent to play an instrument (that's the majority of us, right?) it's just a brilliant game that gives one the feeling of playing a real instrument in a band.

    Lack of innovation killed it off. A deserved end. But I look forward to what the next thing is an innovative developer can come up with. If you can make us lazy, talentless bums get a glimpse of what it is to be a superhero (like CoD gives you the impression of being a supersoldier without the unpleasantries of getting your legs blown off by a mine), I'll gladly put down hard cash to buy your game. And maybe, *one* of the sequels, too :)

    • If you can make us lazy, talentless bums get a glimpse of what it is to be a superhero (like CoD gives you the impression of being a supersoldier without the unpleasantries of getting your legs blown off by a mine), I'll gladly put down hard cash to buy your game. And maybe, *one* of the sequels, too :)

      City of Heroes [cityofheroes.com] ?

    • by Rary (566291)

      Of course it's nowhere close to the real thing, but for people who have no time, patience or talent to play an instrument (that's the majority of us, right?) it's just a brilliant game that gives one the feeling of playing a real instrument in a band.

      The thing is, the game is just plain fun, no matter who you are. I've been playing real guitar for close to 30 years, and I've played in real bands on real stages and in real studios, and yet I love playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band. They're just really, really fun games.

  • When they started doing Guitar Hero (this band) and Rock Band (that other band), I had hopes that they would pick up some of the talented bands that I really wanted - in particular Dire Straits. Instead we got Green Day and Metallica. If they had done an all Dire Straits release I would have been the first in line at the store to buy it; I want to use a plastic toy instrument to emulate real musicians, not lame sell-outs.
    • You and Mark Knopflers mother would have bought it but noone else.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I want to use a plastic toy instrument to emulate real musicians, not lame sell-outs.

      Waaah waaah waaah. My band it teh l337 band, and your band is the sux0r.

      Dude, get over yourself ... other people like other music than you do. They went with big name bands they knew would attract audiences -- as good as Knoplfer is, the vast majority of the people out there wouldn't go out of their way for Dire Straits. Hell, they probably only know one or two of their songs anyway.

      • Dire Straits had more number one hits than Metallica and Green Day combined, and they never had to abandon their core sound (and core audience) to do so. Most people have heard several Dire Straits songs - and probably know a good portion of the chorus to them - and don't even know they are from Dire Straits.
  • by senorpoco (1396603) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @07:32AM (#35160498)
    It is a sad day, guitar hero singlehandedly made the concept of being in a band cool. Before that game professional and talented amateurs alike were resigned to a sad lonely existence where they would be constantly scorned by women and derided by their peers.
  • THIS.... this is the "new day music died"? I felt pretty sick watching the superbowl half time show (i didn't have control of the remote, damn inlaws) or even some pop singer barfing her way through the national anthem at the same event. Every time i turn on our local radio stations i realize that music is dead, but some game not selling well, that's your sign huh?
    • by Combatso (1793216)
      who woulda thought the SUPERBOWL would sell out? I remember the days when you would watch the Superbowl to see the fine showcase of indie/underground talent.. Now its so commercial...
  • ...but if they cancel heroin hero I will FREAK OUT!
  • Just too many "Hero" games in too short a time period. IMO, Activision did it to themselves.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      You're right. And how could they have expected it to last? It is a pretty picture on top of a Simple Simon interface. Push the right buttons at the right time. My girls have about a dozen games on the Wii that are all the same concept as well. Except that on the Wii it is actually more challenging than GH, because you have to spin around or raise up your hand or whatever at the right time.
      If they really wanted to make some money they should have patented the idea of mashing a button at the right time. Too
  • these games were Maddon grade shovelware. Same graphics with minor updates & new songs. If I had to guess, the RIAA wanted too big a piece of the pie and the margins got too slim for Activision...
  • Rock Band kicked their asses. They were starting to get it with Band Hero, but too little too late.

    And I suspect the crappy Rock Band 3 release without the pro hardware available and the ever-increasing demands of music publishers will finish it off too.

  • It's the only way we would have ever gotten a clean copy of Death Magnetic [wikipedia.org].

    Rick Rubin single-handedly ruined the best Metallica album in 20 years, but then people discovered the tracks were unaltered on Guitar Hero 3, and made them available. Although the raw GH3 tracks are not very punchy, there are many fan reproductions that sound surprisingly good without the ridiculous clipping.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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