Eric Hirshberg: Call of Duty is not Guitar Hero

Don’t you adore it when a franchise you love is not only put on hiatus, but also reduced to nothing more than a cautionary tale for that same company’s blockbuster first person shooter franchise? Well that appears to be what has happened with Activision.

In two recently acquired internal memo, Giant Bomb reveals that Activision is concerned about how popular Call of Duty is and is taking a close look at how the Hero franchise collapsed after experiencing similar mainstream success. The memo poses the eerie question of “isn’t Call of Duty today just like Guitar Hero was a few years back?”

Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg responded to that question in February with “This is a great question and one we have thought about a lot, but there are several key differences between the two franchises worth considering. Guitar Hero quickly reached incredible heights, but then began a steady decline. Call of Duty, on the other hand, has steadily grown every single year of its seven-year existence.”

The Hero Timeline

Hirshberg continued on the topic of Guitar Hero and Call of Duty differences. “Guitar Hero was a new genre which had incredible appeal, but which had not stood the test of time. Call of Duty exists in a genre–first person shooters–that has shown remarkable staying power and wide appeal over a period of decades. Plus, Call of Duty has inspired a massive, persistent, online community of players, making it perhaps the ‘stickiest’ game of all time.”

While Hirshberg makes a strong point in how the first person shooter genre’s popularity has been omnipresent since it’s inception, he has to be able to see how the company directly contributed to the series’ downfall. One way to make a trend vanish is to over-expose it to the fans of that trend. With so many games being released in 2008 to 2009, there is no doubt in most people’s minds as to why the franchise seemed to fizzle out after such roaring popularity.

The final excerpt published by Giant Bomb has even more eerie implications, as it sounds very familiar to us. Try replacing “Call of Duty” with “Guitar Hero” and see if it sounds familiar to you as well. “Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world. We have assembled an unprecedented team of some of the finest development and business talent in the world to keep this game ahead of the curve.”

What are your thoughts on this? Is Activision destined to drive Call of Duty into the ground, or will they stick to their plan of attack and earn record profits with Modern Warfare 3? Is this thought process a viable business plan, or will fans grow tired of the franchise and move onto something like Battlefield 3? Only time will tell, but for now, we’re just pointing out that this sounds all too familiar to us longtime Guitar Hero fans.


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8 Responses to Eric Hirshberg: Call of Duty is not Guitar Hero

  1. James! says:

    Everyone’s check books are getting tighter. If Eric Hirshberg thinks millions of people will spend sixty bucks year after year for what is essentially the same game with superficial changes, he’s full of himself. Because that’s exactly what happened to Guitar Hero.

    • Bionic92 says:

      Look at Madden. People will most likely continue to buy CoD games. GH failed because of oversatuartion, one game a year will not kill the franchise.

  2. Croq says:

    That hero timeline demonstrates the glut of releases and how the market (IMO) got totally saturated. I think that has a lot to do with the decline in interest too.

    Also, until recently, they were pretty much standalone games. Songs didn’t transfer from one version to the next.

    Admittedly, with GH5, they started improving in that regard, but it came across as a half-hearted effort with GH:WT and GH:SH both exporting such a small percentage of their tracks. DLC was mostly transportable between titles, which is nice, but the disk exports could have been better. And for DLC, it could be argued that they didn’t release the quantity of songs that they could have.

    For exports, did continue to improve. The vast majority of the GH5 tracks and BH tracks were exportable, so that was awesome, and even though several tracks were missing, the GHM export was a nice surprise.

    But, as evidenced by the recent hero “hiatus”, it was all too little too late.

    I do wish that GH was still around, I actually like both series. I guess that I’ll continue with my RB DLC for the time being and see what the future brings.

  3. pancho says:

    *Put all of the great iconic songs in the early games*
    *Continue to milk the franchise assuming formula remains the same*
    *Oversaturate the hell out of the market*
    *Disregard fact that iconic songs are not infinite*
    *Music game market declines*

    Activision: WHY?!?!?!
    GH Fans: It was RockBand! THEY KILLED GUITAR HERO!
    Harmonix: Wtf, man.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  4. Leoanrdo Storti says:

    Ok here we go again, Activision destroyed Guitar Hero and whored it out same way with Tony Hawk, COD is no exception. Let’s count how many cod games are out there shall we?….the first 2 COD’s, then COD2, then COD3 (which sucked balls),then COD4:MW1, then MW2, then Black Ops, now MW3 in the works…there are 8 COD games if you’re counting MW3. How is this different from what you did to GH and Tony Hawk?….I am not in the least surprised, of course they are worrying because people are getting fed up with COD same way that happened to GH and Tony Hawk, if you keep whoring out your games people will get tired of it, people are not stupid! I can not stress that out enough.

    Now I must admit I wouldn’t know much of COD since I stopped right at COD4:MW1, however I have knowledge of FPS games since COD is not my main shoot em up. But the reason why I stopped is because I did not see major differences from the later games except…better graphics, new maps and weapons, other than that, it all looked the same to me and I’m sure many would agree with me since there is really not much change you can do to an FPS game, you’ve already used almost everything to this game and really, its gonna fall. Wake up Activision, your main pillar is cracking. What else can be added to a shooting game? I forsee that MW3 is gonna be the same damn game as it’s past games… Better graphics, more weapons, and more maps. As COD slowly rose to greatness, it will also slowly fall deeper than hell itself. But like I said I’m not in the least bit surprised since all you care about is money………..KOTICK.

    But then again you’re a business man, I don’t blame you, greed is in your blood, it’s what keeps you alive.

  5. Jason2087 says:

    Rock band didn’t kill guitar hero. Rock band (HmX) made GH to begin with. They just kept doing it better under a different name.

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