Activision unplugs Guitar Hero – for good

The fat lady has sung in Activision’s “Guitar Hero” franchise. Guitar-Hero

The publisher today announced that it was discontinuing development on future games in the series – as well as related titles such as “DJ Hero” and “Band Hero”. Also cancelled was “True Crime: Hong Kong”.

“These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences,” the company said in a statement.

The company estimates that 500 people – about 7 percent of Activision Publishing’s global workforce – will lose their jobs because of the shift in focus.

The music genre has been in decline for some time, resulting in financial struggles for both “Guitar Hero” and its rival “Rock Band. Viacom recently unloaded “Rock Band” developer Harmonix to a New York City-based investment firm for a reported $50.)

“Demand for peripheral-based games declined at a considerable pace,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Given the considerable licensing fees … we simply cannot make these games profitable.”

For “True Crime: Hong Kong,” the story was slightly different. Open world sandbox games are still in favor among gamers, but this particular title – which has been in development for a while  – “just wasn’t going to be good enough” said Hirshberg.

“Guitar Hero” was, at one time, a $1 billion dollar franchise for Activision. But people with access to the most recent NPD Group sales numbers say the most recent version of the game – “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock” – sold fewer than 261,000 copies  – with nine different SKUs on the market.

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