Activision Publishing CEO Talks About the Future of Guitar Hero

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!

[via Joystiq]


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21 Responses to Activision Publishing CEO Talks About the Future of Guitar Hero

  1. The Hero Feed is Awesome says:

    Thanks for the update!

  2. ManfredvonKarma says:

    Wow it’s a real shame that DJ Hero isn’t coming back- thanks for bringing this to my attention though!

    Keep up the good work guys!

    • Elliott says:

      Yeah I’m pretty sad also- I hope FSG is hard at work on another awesome game!

    • Leonardo Storti says:

      Hey it’s cool homes, I mean you still got alot of music to play with same goes with GH. you still have DJH1 and 2 so if you think about it adding it together you got a good amount of music in those games, DJH is still a great party game and I don’t like DJ music, I really don’t but I do love playing the game….

      I knew GH would come back someday, I mean the GH brand is really strong, people just got tired of the same old formula…though if you ask me the formula, gameplay, graphics and the music has changed alot so part of the complaints are just by stupid people. GH5 was amazingly well done and when GHWOR came out it perfected all the small little errors that GH5 had, it was a much better game not to mention a good selection of music for it. Plus since GH was the very first Guitar rythm game to come out, it will always be popular, give GH 2 to 3 years of rest give it some innovation new stuff, and once it comes back people will go CRAZY!!!! it might even outsell GH3 and that is saying alot

      • EuroMIX2 says:

        “Plus since GH was the very first Guitar rythm game to come out”

        Well, TECHNICALLY Guitar Freaks by Konami was the first real guitar game I know of, but I’m not sure if that ever left Japan/arcades. Really most of the concepts that make up these games have been done by someone before in some way, so that mostly invalidates the “who did it first” argument, especially since in most cases it was Konami.

        Doesn’t mean that someone else can’t adapt the same sort of idea though, it just means people have to stop screaming “COPYCATS” at everything.

  3. pancho says:

    *Oversaturate the market*
    *Kill competition for every other developer*
    *The demand for music games decreases drastically*
    *Realize their backfiring mistake*
    *Wait a few years until current GH and DJ Hero copies collecting dust at Gamestop find a home*
    *Oversaturate market again*

    Makes perfect sense.

    • Leonardo Storti says:

      hey dude I don’t care, as long as i can expand my music bro….if all of my imports from all my games and dlc work for the next GH in the future….oh and if they include GHWOR import then it’s all good….I have over 450 songs in my GH library, as long as i see that many songs again added to the next GH, it’s all good oversaturate the market again I don’t care, I will buy it because I am a fan

      • KEWB says:

        I think you underestimate just how bad oversaturation is. If Activision hadn’t whored out this franchise this whole “hiatus” probably would never have happened and interest in music games would probably still be fairly high. In the long run, that would probably mean more money for Activision, but that just doesn’t seem to be their style. Get a popular franchise going, milk it for all it’s worth, move on to the next franchise and repeat. There’s no integrity with that method and it’s terrible for the gaming industry.

        • lololololol says:

          “If Activision hadn’t whored out this franchise this whole “hiatus” probably would never have happened and interest in music games would probably still be fairly high.”

          That’s a nice fairy tale… People stopped caring about Music Games in 2008

          • ManfredvonKarma says:

            Yes, around 2008 and 2009, people really did lose interest in music games. That’s also the timeframe that saw the release of GHWT, GHM, GHSH, GH5, GHVH, two DS GH games, DJ Hero, Rock Band Unplugged, and The Beatles Rock Band.

            It seems rather interesting that you’re willing to write off the mass-release of music games (mostly by Activision) as the cause of that loss of interest, even when they fit together oh so well.

          • Elliott says:

            Guitar Hero Metallica came out in 2009

            Guitar Hero World Tour was the last Guitar Hero game that sold well.

            Everything else has been a downward slope.

            In the grand scheme of things the only Music Game that sold well since then was The Beatles: Rock Band and it still wasn’t profitable.

            People are fickle.

      • DucksFAN says:

        What console do you play on?

  4. K1k3 says:

    Thanks a lot for the info, I knew GH wasn’t dead… we just have to wait a little more… here in México, me and like 7 friends already saved money for the next GH game and DLC 🙂 The problem…. is about the imports… I bought a lot of DLC… my Wii died and I needed to buy it again… I guess it will happen again with the Wii U… :/ But, that’s the price if we want an innovation… greetings from México to everyone n_n

    • roflroflrofl says:

      You can actually transfer Wii DLC to a new console if you contact Nintendo’s customer support.


  5. Game!Ov3r says:

    It was kinda funny finding the DJ hero budles clogging the shelves at the local Big Lots stores here for $20 and nothing looked to be moving. I really hope that Guitar Hero comes back just so that my vast amount to DLC becomes usefull again.

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