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Music Games

Activision Trying To 'Reinvent' Guitar Hero 144

In an interview with Forbes, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick spoke about the rise and fall of the Guitar Hero franchise, saying "it became unsuccessful because it didn't have any nourishment and care." He then revealed that after effectively canceling the franchise last year, the company is looking for ways to resurrect it. "We said you know what, we need to regain our audience interest, and we really need to deliver inspired innovation. So we're going to take the products out of the market, and we're not going to tell anybody what we're doing for awhile, but we're going to stop selling Guitar Hero altogether. And then we're going to go back to the studios and we're going to use new studios and reinvent Guitar Hero. And so that's what we're doing with it now." Kotick also addressed Activision's lack of foresight regarding DJ Hero: "...in hindsight, if you step back – and it really would have been a simple thing to do – we should have said, 'Well, how many people really want to unleash their inner DJ?'"
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Activision Trying To 'Reinvent' Guitar Hero

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  • it was a fad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:09PM (#36838804)

    time to move on

  • DJ Hero (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:31PM (#36839150)

    I really don't know what could be done about Guitar Hero to make the experience fresh and engaging. It looks to me like they're risking turning it into a convoluted and disappointing experience.

    As for DJ Hero, I don't think the problem was that the audience wasn't there, the problem was that the music selection was bad. I mean, who hasn't gone to a dance club? The problem is that the music was heavily pop-oriented with a lean towards hip hop. They completely missed a huge core demographic for the game. It's like the whole game was based around a single DJ who evidently had a thing for a mish-mash of contrasting styles. The persistent theme seemed to be something new and old. They should have offered selections based around a range of popular genres; trance, house, drum n bass, dubstep, hip hop etc. Hell, they could have even included pop mixes. And keep the mixes within those particular genres.

    Ideally the game would have let you choose any two tracks, but that would have been a daunting challenge to pull off automatic mixing. The thing is that the game was fun, albeit too easy. The music selection was the big letdown.

  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @06:18PM (#36839906)

    DJ Hero was crap.

    The first problem was that the controller was RSI-inducing after only a couple minutes.
    The second problem was that the music was shit.
    The third problem is that Guitar Hero/Rock Band are COMMUNITY games; you need to be able to have friends pick up and play with you. DJ'ing is not a community activity.

    Kotick, meanwhile, should be fired for his policy of running franchises into the ground constantly. Activision's primary mistake is keeping him and his suck-ups on the payroll.

  • by DJHeRobotExVV ( 2402664 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @10:27PM (#36842032)
    50 people lost their jobs from Vicarious Visions in Mendands, NY with the death of the Guitar Hero franchise on February 9th. The cited reason in the termination paperwork was the elimination of the Guitar Hero "Business Unit". The sad fact is that Vicarious Visions was in the process of reviving the franchise - injecting it with the "creativity" and "inspired innovation" that Kotick bemoans the series lacking due to Neversoft's mis-handling, the same innovation and creativity that it will never have again now that all of the creative people who were to see the series through to its subsequent release in 2012 have been laid off, in perhaps the most hush-hush manner ever surrounding a game's utter implosion. It's easy to connect the dots as to what Activision were doing - observe Neversoft's staffing cupboard being laid bare by their corporate overlords, and the flocking of specific audio people and Neversoft staff to the Capital region. Observe the sudden uptick in hiring over the past 24 months.

    Do note, please, that all of the rank-and-file employees who had been in the industry for more than a few years and hadn't yet drank the corporate Kool-Aid could see the writing on the wall years before the franchise started to flag. It was plainly obvious that Guitar Hero was never anything more than a quizzical curio of the executives, one that had materialized a billion dollars into their net worth for no good reason that any of their MBAs, marketing research, or "producers" could cite, but one that people appeared to want in record numbers. As they saw it, perhaps without realizing it, the series was one to be expanded, not honed - mass-produced, not polished. Guitar Hero, in the land of business-people, was to become as ubiquitous as the Wii, the Xbox, or Playstation - they wanted Guitar Hero to be come not a game, but a platform, and any gamer worth his or her salt can tell you that that is impossible. You reach market saturation, you polish for one iteration or perhaps two if demand does not flag, you move on. The fact, however, that (again) any gamer can tell you is that unless you have a brand that is couched in gamer culture that existed well prior to the introduction of Internet connectivity at large - compare to Mario or Madden, as even the Sonic franchise has become lackluster in light of its lack of pre-90's roots - people will not remain interested for more than a few years at best. A new fad comes along, staff turnover comes along, new hardware comes along, and with new things people want new franchises.

    The sad fact is that the employees who balked at the notion of monetizing the Guitar Hero series were met with harsh reprimands - money is a cruel mistress, and it can make people do cruel things without even realizing it. Certainly, when one drives a new car into work and shuts that door for the first time in front of his coworkers, one would never admit that it could all come crashing down within six months, 12, 24 or ever. Employees that balked the loudest were laid off the soonest as the music/rhythm franchise began its inexorable decline, while those who praised every iteration, every minute variant were richly rewarded for their sycophantic loyalty.

    The sad fact here is that there are no winners or losers, now, at the sad end of The Music/Rhythm Wars. Konami's interest level in polishing the Revolution and Freaks series seems to have ended long ago, Power Gig was a failure, Rock Band 3 sold worse than Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, roughly 500 people across different Activision studios lost their jobs in one go when Activision officially announced the termination of the Guitar Hero business unit, not to mention the studio closings and down-sizing occurring over the past two years - likely as an attempt to keep the Guitar Hero franchise afloat as it hemorrhaged money, Harmonix were sold off by Viacom for $50 and the assumption of their considerable debts - this after having their $150 million performance-based bonus requested to be returned as a result of their lack of meeting s

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell