Thursday, February 10, 2011

So Long, Guitar Hero

I predicted that Guitar Hero was going to collapse, and verily, it came to pass.

Here's what a few people are saying:

“You can have an IP that you lovingly care for and release every so often that can last forever, or one you ride hard into the ground.” - Cliffy B

Sing it, Cliff.

Activision sez:
"Although we did well with the core gamer in 2010, we felt the effects of changing consumer demand for peripheral-based and mid-tier titles, which performed well below our expectations.

After two years of steeply declining sales, we’ve made the decision to close our Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on our previously playing Guitar Hero title for 2011.

Despite a remarkable 92 rating on DJ Hero 2, a widely well-regarded Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, as well as the 90-plus rated release from our most direct competitor, demand for peripheral-based music games declined at a dramatic pace."
It appears that Activision learned the wrong lesson here. Instead of placing the blame on peripheral oversaturation, as yours truly talked about back in 2009 and everyone could see coming from a mile away, they said that demand decreased dramatically. In other words, it was completely out of their hands and just a market fluctuation.

When Guitar Hero came out, it was a revelation. It was fun, easy to learn, and just plain brilliant. You could tell that it had a limited shelf life, but there were ways to stretch that shelf life considerably. By metering out carefully the releases, Activision could have kept Guitar Hero viable for several years.

Don't believe me? Think of this: What if they would have ONLY released Guitar Hero 3 and Guitar Hero: World Tour this generation? They could bide their time, wait a a few years, and then release the next Guitar Hero with cool new features. They might even wait a generation for the next one. Can you imagine the demand for the next game? Instead, they pummeled the tar out of Guitar Hero so badly that no one wanted anything to do with it.

They also learned the wrong lesson from Guitar Hero in a different sense. Instead of understanding that the appeal wasn't in the motion or the peripheral but rather the gameplay, they started pounding out peripherals like mad. Here's the thing: No one liked the extra cost involved with the peripherals. They used them because the games they were attached to were fun.

What a concept! Instead of peripherals driving purchases, people actually would buy good games in SPITE of the extra expense BECAUSE they were good! WOW!

I've hammered Activision on this point repeatedly, but don't be surprised if they go the way of 90's Sega. They have no idea what they're doing. So why aren't we having this conversation about Call of Duty instead? We'll discuss that a different time.

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