It’s odd to think that in such a short time, a series like Guitar Hero went from being the darling of music games to a struggling shadow of its former self. Today Activision put an end to its misery and announced in a financial report (via Gamespot) that it was discontinuing Guitar Hero along with DJ Hero, a game that had a lot of promise but came out too late and too expensive for it to succeed as a profitable franchise. Current players of both will still be serviced via downloadable tracks but for the foreseeable future Activision is out of the music genre.
Another name to be affected was Tony Hawk whose games have been put on hold. Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said “no new music or skateboarding games [are coming] in 2011,” which is a very different view from only a couple of months ago where he gave his full support to the skating star saying that the latest Tony Hawk game, Shred, still had life in it despite an incredibly poor first week of sales – just 3,000. Clearly sales didn’t pick up at all forcing the publisher to have such a sudden change of heart.
Lastly, True Crime: Hong Kong has also been cancelled before it was even released with Hirshberg saying “To be blunt, it just wasn’t going to be good enough.” He believed it didn’t have the quality to be a triple A game and those are the only things that can survive in today’s market.
A very blinkered view on an industry whose core audience is always crying out for original and innovative ideas that take rewarding risks. But said audience are quickly becoming eclipsed by those only out for the top-tier releases with a growing divide between what’s seen as an 8/10 game and a 10/10. It’s something Activision have used to their advantage and one thing they’re very good at is taking an idea, adding to that ever so slightly each year, making you want games you probably already played. It’s evident that the longer this goes on for, the less and less desirable a product becomes. Some franchises have a greater longevity than others but when two series that were once so big they started new trends and pioneered genres are killed off in one announcement, it’s more than just a sign of the times.