Publisher Activision put its Guitar Hero business on ice earlier this year, signalling the end of a genre that was once white hot, but quickly flamed out. Why did Activision just bail on this formerly billion dollar business instead of taking it in a radical new direction?
That's the question posed in a newly published internal memo from Activision, reported by Giant Bomb. "Why are we walking away from Guitar Hero instead of trying to reinvent it?" asks CEO Eric Hirshberg in that letter to Activision employees.
"The most compelling reason for this decision is the fact that so many high quality games have suffered the same fate in the marketplace," he said, citing high Metacritic review averages for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, DJ Hero 2 and Rock Band 3, Harmonix's rival music game series. "This is not a matter of lack of quality or poor execution. This is simply a matter of the market running out of appetite for this genre."
Hirshberg's letter does offer hope for existing Guitar Hero fans, telling employees that "perhaps after a cooling period we will revisit the franchise with fresh innovation," which he says "will take time and a deep reconsideration."
So don't be too surprised if a nearly unrecognizable game bearing the Guitar Hero brand emerges from Activision in the coming years.
(Giant Bomb is currently suffering from some downtime, but news editor Patrick Klepek is soldiering on with the help of Google Docs, where you can read the full story.)