We already know all about Activision’s cancellation of numerous products, including our favorite franchises with the word “Hero” in them, but Eric Hirshberg, Activision Publishing CEO, recently spoke with Joystiq to delve deeper into the underlying reasons why multiple series were so abruptly put on hiatus.
We knew that Activision’s official stance of the status of the Hero brand was that it was on “hiatus,” and reinforcing that was something Hirshberg made sure he touched on as they began discussing the brand. “All we did was cancel the games that we previously announced were going to come out in 2011,” said Hirshberg. “The Hero brand is still incredibly powerful and potent. It’s one of the best known entertainment brands in the world.”
With that very careful wording, it seems almost inevitable that the Hero brand will return at some point in the near future. “If we can generate meaningful innovation and meaningful reinvention, we will bring it back,” said Hirshberg.
One common complaint about the Hero series was that, despite a high number of games being released, little innovation or progress was actually being made in the franchise itself. “[…] what we couldn’t afford to continue doing was putting out iterative improvements of the same idea because that idea had run out of gas in the marketplace,” said Hirshberg.
Unfortunately, the issue of the high cost of music licensing and peripheral manufacturing will always haunt music games, and Eric Hirshberg claims that was one of the deciding factors when the company put an end to Guitar Hero/DJ Hero development this year. “Those games had peripherals that needed to be manufactured – guitar-shaped controllers, drum-shaped controllers,” said Hirshberg. “Those games had 70 or 80 licensed songs as part of them, and celebrity likenesses that needed to be paid for, and music that needed to be paid for. They were not inexpensive games to make in any way.”
Hirshberg claims that DJ Hero was particularly expensive, which was unfortunate for the company, since it failed to find the enormous audience that Guitar Hero attracted. “[DJ Hero] found an even smaller audience than the Guitar Hero stuff,” said the CEO. “Even with all the things [author Christopher Grant] said: rave reviews, real innovation, one could argue more relevant, more contemporary music. The fact that we now have two different pieces of music in one track, it now almost kind of doubled. Not the dollar amount of licensing, but the number of songs that needed to be licensed in order to just execute the idea of the game.”
Hirshberg seemed to almost eulogize the DJ Hero series, claiming that it just wasn’t able to be successful, not matter the opportunities. “[DJ Hero] had every opportunity and it didn’t succeed,” said Hirshberg. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to take a clear-eyed look at that.”
Want to read more? Check out the link below to read Hirshberg’s comments on the True Crime cancellation, as well as the closure of fan-favorite studio Bizarre Creations. Is Activision justified in their reasoning for dropping Guitar Hero/DJ Hero for the time being? Let us know what you think about Hirshberg’s recent discussion in the comments section below!