The future of Guitar Hero has looked uncertain since the holiday season. First Harmonix, the co-creator of Guitar Hero along with RedOctane, was sold off in parts by Viacom. Then Harmonix collaborator, MTV Games, was closed down earlier this year. However, the nail in the coffin was likely the poorly-received sixth title of the series, Guitar Heros: Warriors of Rock, and subsequently Activision’s reported $233 million net loss for the fourth quarter.
Mashable speculates that the main cause of Guitar Hero’s demise was oversaturation. Between Rock Band, Band Hero and DJ Hero, there are simply too many games in the genre that require expensive (and rarely compatible) controllers. Besides the financial obstacle, the novelty factor of Guitar Hero has worn thin as well. With minimal changes between titles and a shortage of new classic rock anthems to include, gamers have begun to look elsewhere for their shredding needs. Despite all of that, Activision said in a press release that their decision to shut down the Guitar Hero division was “due to continued declines in the music genre.”
But how will this affect the music industry, you ask? Good question. Music Week’s specialist Eamonn Forde thinks that record companies, despite making a lot of money off their partnership with Activision, will quickly replace the revenue stream. “There are other areas for these companies to move into, be that social gaming or apps for mobiles,” he says. “I think we may see some music games—that aren’t based on dance—make use of Move and Kinect next year. I also believe you will see a whole new wave of games for iPad and other touch screen devices. There’s a huge opportunity for music companies to get in front of millions of customers via social games, without the player needing to shell out $40 or more to do so. These games are a lot cheaper to develop and you can get them in front of a mass audience quicker.”
Not everyone is as optimistic as Forde, however. Hypebot points out that Guitar Hero was able to achieve some things that the music industry has struggled with. For example, the video game series created cross-over hits, exposing both serious and casual music fans to unfamiliar genres. It also helped to reignite guitar culture. Guitar Hero taught kids the significance of the solo, and familiarized them with classic rock legends in a way they hadn’t experienced before. Additionally, it provided a serious spike in sales for the songs featured in the games. According to Hypebot, every song included in the Guitar Hero III title saw a sales increase between 15% to 843%. Guitar Hero’s days may have been numbered for some time, but we’re still sad to see it go.