Activision gives Guitar Hero games the axe

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Guitar_hero_logo.png…and by axe we don’t mean some mythical new “sent-from-on-high-by-Hendrix-himself” plastic peripheral to go along with a new installement in the long-running rhythm-music series, but rather that Activision has given Guitar Hero the chop.

Fourteen different RSI-inducing Guitar Hero games have been made since the series first launched in 2005, and while it was initially explosively popular, the franchise’s popularity has been fading for some time. Rival series Rock Band quickly improved upon Guitar Hero’s initial premise by introducing a full band mechanic, and Guitar Hero began playing catch-up from that moment on. Whereas the series’ highpoint, Guitar Hero III shifted 1.5 million copies, the last entry, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, managed only 86,000.

According to Activision’s Publishing Chief Executive Eric Hirshberg, the decision was made as the company “simply cannot make these games profitable based on current economics.”

With sales declining and the high cost of licensing music for the titles still fixed, Activision have decided to halt development of the planned 2011 Guitar Hero installment, as well as cancelling the DJ Hero franchise. 500 of Activision’s 7,000 employees will be laid off as a result, which will also mean that upcoming action title True Crime: Hong Kong, will also be cancelled.

It’s worth also noting however that sales of chief competitor Rock Band led Viacom to sell maker Harmonix and close the MTV Games publishing division, so it seems an endemic decline for the music genre overall.

Gerald Lynch