On Wednesday February 9th, 2011, Activision Publishing announced that it would be discontinuing the Guitar Hero game series. This move brings to an end the game series’ six year life and potentially signals a shift in the direction in the future of musical gaming.
Activision cited a severe decline in sales as the key reason for this move, but there are a few other factors that have hurt Guitar Hero’s sales success. Only a couple of years ago, the game pulled in over $2 billion dollars in sales, but has experienced a steady decline since then. The latest installment of the series, “World Tour” moved under 100,000 units. This seemingly was the final straw that pushed Activision to direct their financial and manpower resources in the direction of their much more profitable projects, including World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty series. The Guitar Hero series demand quite simply depleted to lows that Activision viewed as financially irresponsible to continue to pursue.
The evolution of music gaming was, of course, another factor. The development of Rock Band for example, expanded the concept of interactive musical games from just one instrument, to multiple ones, allowing for a more diverse field of attention for their games.
Other factors include the rise in popularity of dance based games, such as those offered by X-Box 360 with the recent release of its Kinect technology. The trend of these games seems to be moving players away from music games involving any hand held technology, and allowing for more free-motion based experiences.
Along with Guitar Hero, Activision announced that the DJ Hero series will also be ending. While there is some speculation that for some period of time there would be new, downloadable game packs available with new songs for the Guitar Hero series, it is unlikely that this will last for long. Activision’s intent is to shut down all development for this series, and move on to more profitable projects. They have, however, stated that support would still be available for the defunct series to users who continue to play the Guitar Hero games. There is no timetable on the longevity of this support at this time.