Why Activision Killed Guitar Hero

Activision Blizzard wants Guitar Hero to become a legacy product. Due to nonexistent margins, it plans to discontinue the popular game franchise this year. From Wired:

The drastic move comes after significant industrywide declines in the music game business. In 2007, Activision sold 1.5 million copies of Guitar Hero III in its first month of sales. Last year, Activision only sold 86,000 copies of the latest game in the series, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Slowing sales of chief competitor Rock Band led Viacom to sell maker Harmonix and close the MTV Games publishing division.

Activision said that the decline of the genre, plus the high cost of licensing music and producing the games, led it to close the business.

“There was nothing that Activision or anybody could have done to save Guitar Hero,” said Jesse Divnich, vice president of analyst services for Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, in an interview with Wired.com. Divnich said that Activision realizes the “opportunity cost” of continuing to make Hero games when it could instead be putting those resources towards more profitable games.

Divnich said that the casual gamers that made up the majority of guitar games’ audience have now moved on. “if your primary hobby is not gaming, you get your fill quicker on entertainment products,” he said.

Activision Blizzard called the end to this fad, even though Guitar Hero innovations could arguably have increased the product’s longevity. The company’s “sequel-centric” strategy of getting the most out of every franchise (then dropping it?) is in full force here.

Some 500 employees will be dropped by the end of March, too, according to ShackNews.

Written by Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.