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Guitar Hero Failed Due To Lack Of "Nourishment And Care"

The title of the article at Forbes is, "Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick: How to be an Innovator." with that what you will.

Anyway, Kotick spoke about the rise and fall of the Guitar Hero franchise, which went from being a $2 billion franchise in 2007 to being unprofitable in 2010. The series spawned plenty of titles, along with the DJ Hero spin-off. After explaining why Activision purchased developer RedOctane, Kotick said he thought gamers would want to "unleash their inner rock star." And that proved true. But he believes they strayed from the path with DJ Hero:

"And in hindsight, if you step back –and it really would have been a simple thing to do– we should have said, ‘Well, how many people really want to unleash their inner DJ?’ And then out of the people who do want to unleash their inner DJ, how many want to do it in the context of a game where you earn points, versus just taking a DJ deck or tools on their Macintosh and actually being a DJ? And it turns out it’s a very small market."

Of course, both DJ Hero titles were greeted with immense critical acclaim; they just didn't sell very well. And Kotick says they "abandoned a bit of the innovation that was required in the Guitar Hero franchise." Finished Kotick:

"Guitar Hero became unsuccessful because it didn’t have any nourishment and care. So we made what I think was exactly the right decision last year. We said you know what, we need to regain our audience interest, and we really need to deliver inspired innovation. So we’re going to take the products out of the market, and we’re not going to tell anybody what we’re doing for awhile, but we’re going to stop selling Guitar Hero altogether. And then we’re going to go back to the studios and we’re going to use new studios and reinvent Guitar Hero. And so that’s what we’re doing with it now."

The question is, how much innovation would've been required to keep the franchise from feeling stale? And Kotick didn't mention the onslaught of expensive bundles and the numerous products each year with "Hero" in the title. Evidently, he doesn't think over-saturation was an issue... And by the way, Activision plans to bring back Guitar Hero at some point in the future. Big surprise, eh?

Tags: guitar hero, activision, bobby kotick, music games

7/21/2011 8:39:02 PM John Shepard

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (19 posts)

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 9:22:27 PM

So an Activision franchise suffered from lack of innovation...

Agree with this comment 11 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 10:11:23 PM

With Rock Band kicking Activision's arse in terms of innovation, and with the release of Rocksmith soon, Activision are really gonna have to do something special to wow people. Honestly, I doubt they will.

Activision brought the downfall of GH on themselves by flooding the market. 4 titles in one year!!! Overkill.

Such a shame too. I loved Guitar Hero. Now I love Rock Band. I love Dance Central and Cannot wait for Dance Central 2 and Rocksmith. I'm a big fan of music games, especially ones that innovate and teach you how to play an instrument or dance. Guitar Hero had none of that.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 10:21:48 PM

First article I read on my birthday :D I like me some Guitar Hero, but I'm glad they stopped shoving it down my throat.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 10:23:32 PM

Goodness I hate these games. I was at a family gathering the other week and I was speaking with a cousin I haven't seen in a long time. He freakin shreds on the guitar and said he was teaching his son. They were making progress until his son discovered Guitar Hero. His grandmother(my aunt) bought it for him and he's now given up playing real guitar completely. For shame.

Agree with this comment 8 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 11:20:36 PM

Guitar Hero didn't just have a lack of nourishment and care, it was assassinated by oversaturation. Every time I read what Kotex has to say I want to barf on him for being a blight on gaming. If I was in Anonymous I would dedicate all my time in my Mom's basement to bringing him down.

Agree with this comment 7 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 11:25:53 PM

Yeah, and Wada too!

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 9:48:01 AM

"If I was in Anonymous, I would dedicate all my time in my mom's basement to bringing him down."

Sometimes, World, I envision you with a cape and a superhero stance.

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 12:35:21 PM

I tend to imagine him with a sword

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 2:13:07 PM

I think I could pull off a cape

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Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 11:31:17 PM

If there gonna bring back Guitar Hero then why not True Crime: Hong Kong a game that looked like it was actually worth buying... Oh but wait, if it isn't a franchise that they think is going to make them a gazillion dollars then of course they're not gonna bring it back.... Which would make no sense seeing how Prototype franchise isn't gonna get them there either & as much as I like Prototype and as much as I'm anticipating it's sequel I gotta say I would definitely enjoy the TC:HK game more.

Last edited by GuyverLT on 7/21/2011 11:33:27 PM

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Looking Glass
Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 12:25:20 AM

It's not just Guitar Hero we're talking about here. The market for music rhythm games in general is weakening. Guitar Hero is dead in the water but the thing is that Rock Band doesn't seem to be far behind.

Over-saturation and increasingly unattractive expensive bundles are certainly factors. But I think the main reason is that the genre is essentially finite and perhaps has been all along. Now I disagree with Yahtzee about a number of things but I'm inclined to agree with him about music rhythm games: that they're simply running out of stuff to do with the concept. It's like a car running out of gas. And the gas in this case is songs and music.

I mean when they've already included all of the best songs and music in the world in the games what else can they do? Seriously, when there are no more worthwhile songs to add then what else is there to do? DJ Hero's failure would seem to imply that cooking up new peripherals isn't a solution so what else is there? All of this also leads me to believe that the upcoming Rocksmith may not be all that successful if the genre is indeed simply running out of gas. I guess we'll have to wait and see but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 12:44:46 AM

Seriously, Guitar Hero has devestated a growth in what otherwise could have been real talent. I bet there is potential out there that was squanderd on crap like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 4:56:56 AM

no, GH faied because 1 they had like what 4 GH games in 1 year?
2 its GUITAR hero not pop hero!
last propper guitar focoused tracklist they had was GH3, the rest bar metallica were craptastic!
i wish they would do a HD remake of the first 2 and rocks the 80s, they had by far the best tracklist!
iron man, bark at the moon, cowboys from hell.
now thats a tracklist, not this michael jackson crap!
rock bands always had the better track list, but its far too easy.
ive always found myself trouncing RB on expert no problems, but on GH i get to about 3/4s of the way where i lack out.
i wish they would bring back being able to use a standard controller rather then having to use the guitar.
i hate using the guitar because my arm goes numb really quickly, much easier to use a controller!

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 5:18:00 AM

The solution seems pretty obvious to me: Stop making games that require special controllers!! PaRappa, VibRibbon, Space Channel 5, Frequency, Amplitude, Gitaroo-Man, DJ Max, Elite Beat Agents, Patapon -- None of them need anything but the game!

People are tired of paying $100+ for silly bundles.

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 7:57:45 AM

If they want a game like this to survive, they need to have one game, and then just release more songs and gameplay modes/"innovations" via DLC. If they want to add an instrument, sell the instrument by itself and let it be included in the game free of cost. If they want a "new title", just sell a big pack of songs for the previous title for like half the price of a full game. I'd gladly pay $30 for somewhere around 70-80 new songs on the game I already own. And they need to expand their music library. These games rarely had any music that I listen to on a daily basis. So what would make me come back and buy title after title? For some, I'm sure they had plenty. I know that some complain that some songs are too easy and if they aren't songs for guitar gods, they shouldn't be in the game. But, I have a hard time believing MOST people really play these games just for the challenge. We want to hear songs we like, hard or easy to play, it doesn't matter all that much. If you get a huge diversity of songs, you will have yourself a winner. I still play Guitar Hero sometimes but I play it because I want to hear the songs I like and have a good time playing along with them. Imagine if there was one GH or RB that had a music catalog of iTunes. Okay, so, that's pretty extreme but think about it, everyone out there would have a choice in what they want to play. People don't come back for new power-ups and new ways to destroy the demigods of rock. It's all about the music.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011 @ 9:52:13 PM

You have just described HMX's business plan for Rock Band.

RB has nearly 3000 songs available (2000 playable with the *original* game), with 3 - 12 new ones added every week. How is that not enough?

Expecting 70 - 80 songs for $30 is absurd. They do sell discs with 20 songs for $30, though.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 7/23/2011 9:58:19 PM

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 8:00:17 AM

Same will happen with the Call of Duty franchise (each "new" game looks like a missions DLC). At least I hope so. Battlefield 3 looks way better with each new trailer released.

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 2:37:03 PM

I'd like to hope your're right with that one as well. Only thing is Modern Warfare was out in 07 same as when GH was starting to blow up and CoD is still selling by the truck load for whatever reason. It probably helps CoD doesn't have a peripheral become obsolete for the new version every year/iteration either. Sadly people will continue to shell out $60 for a map pack every year.

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Friday, July 22, 2011 @ 1:44:56 PM

Seriously? An Activision game lacking nourishment and care? One could argue that it's more of a 'management' problem...namely BK.

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