Activision has recently revealed that the Guitar Hero franchise is no more in their latest financial report of 2010. The report states that the decline in the music genre has led the company to pursue other interests, i.e., more profitable ones. Rather than just delay the release of the planned 2011 Guitar Hero game, Activision has decided to shut down Guitar Hero’s production unit altogether, meaning the ultimate demise of the series. However, there will be continued support for all existing Guitar Hero games with DLC. The question is, for how long?
Rock Band’s developer Harmonix quickly responded to Guitar Hero’s demise with a sympathetic post on the official Rock Band website. Harmonix has realized that the music genre is going downhill, and decided a while back that they would concentrate on supporting the massive DLC for the Rock Band series instead of creating new installments. With Harmonix‘s largest competitor demolished, fans are wary of how Harmonix will fare. Will Harmonix suffer the same fate due to recently low interest in the genre, or will they now be able to dominate the genre and create a new tidal wave of success with the Rock Band franchise? Only time will tell.
With the official story out of the way, I’d like to offer my opinions on this situation. I have to start off with how I entered the music genre. One seemingly normal day, 3 years and some odd months ago, I happened across a display in the video game section of Wal-Mart. My friend and I had mocked the very game being displayed for months because it always seemed to always have a line of teenagers and children queued up, staring in awe at the TV screen. I decided to try it for myself, and ever since then, I was a fan of Guitar Hero 3, and later, the music genre as a whole. Yes, I had become one of those gaping children staring in awe at the television screen at the awesomeness that was Guitar Hero. I bought Guitar Hero 3 a month or so later. The rackety clack of the strum bar was all you could hear for months on end, and I was as happy as could be.
Flash forward to Valentine’s Day, 2009. Finally, I had my hands on the series I had wanted for months. This time, it was Rock Band that had captured my adoration―something that it hasn’t let go of since. Though I’m very particular to Rock Band, I can’t say I don’t still love Guitar Hero. Not only is it what started me onto the then-booming music genre, I simply like the guitar controls more than I do Rock Band’s. The Les Paul guitar controller was more responsive and the clack of the firm strum bar had become an addicting sound. Rock Band 2’s guitar controller’s strum bar and frets always felt flimsy and I could never do as well on Rock Band with the guitar as I could on Guitar Hero. However, I must add that it was the drums that sucked me into Rock Band, not the guitar, and I absolutely love Rock Band’s drums.
I continued to buy both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and had great love for both series. To see a series that opened me to a whole new genre that I never thought I would like, die, hits a soft spot for me. I’ll miss Guitar Hero and all its glory, but my love for it will never fade away.
Something that must be noted is that many people, fans included, feel it was Activision’s own fault for its demise. For years, it seemed a new Guitar Hero game was released every few months. Soon, Band Hero and DJ Hero would join the mix, causing a flood of new games in the music genre market. Over-saturating a genre is one thing, but another cause of the downfall of the once mighty music genre are the mass amounts of peripherals required for the games. One or two plastic guitars are bad enough if you live in a small house with little extra room, but once you add in the drum set with cymbal expansion kit for Rock Band, a microphone, the turntable for DJ Hero, another drum set for Guitar Hero, and any other shiny pieces of plastic you purchased, you’re drowning in a sea of plastic. People can’t afford to purchase new peripherals every time a new music game comes out, and so, stacks and stacks of unsold box sets sat in stores for months with nary a look.
Many firmly believe it was the companies’ own faults for their downfall, but fortunately, it seems Harmonix has realized their mistake, and is doing their best to slow down production of new games. So far, the music genre isn’t dead yet. Let’s hope it stays that way for as long as possible.
Written by Kari Bale