After the release of some 20 games and spin-offs between 2005 and 2010 made everybody completely sick of games with "Hero" at the end, Activision killed the series in 2011. Game historian Liam Robertson gives us a look at the massively multiplayer online Hero World that died with it.
According to Roberton's Unseen 64 video (via Gamasutra), DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games was having trouble determining a direction for the since-canceled third entry in the Guitar Hero spin-off series, when it came up with a buzzword-heavy plan to create something much bigger than a threequel.
Capitalising on the trends of Facebook and social gaming, they proposed a browser-based massively-multiplayer online world that would not only serve as a tie-in to DJ Hero, but all games in the franchise going forward. In order to cram a few more hot trends into the mix, a Facebook venue-management sim with ties to both core games and the MMO was thrown into the mix.
Lacking the ability to create such a thing and obligated to continue with DJ Hero 3, Freestyle and Activision tapped Dutch developer Virtual Fairground to create a world for music game fans to romp about in. The game, known as Hero World, was being built from the same engine as Virtual Fairground's Club Galactik, which was an MMO built around French animated TV show Galactik Football.
The Hero World MMO would have seen players vying for territory in a club-themed city. Players in the core games could perform at venues in the MMO world, earning currency to purchase in-game items in the process. The Facebook game would have been more of a management sim. Looking at the early footage in the video below, it all would have been pretty horrible.
The Hero World project died in early 2011, along with the rest of Activision's Hero games. Virtual Fairground worked on the game for several months, banking on a payout upon completion, but since the project was canceled the developer only received partial payment. Between the cancellation of Hero World and an untimely change of licence holders for Galactik Football leading to the closure of Club Galactik, Virtual Fairground went bankrupt in mid 2011.
The image above comes from the long-neglected website of a company called Gamundo, a multiplatform development studio formed in 2012 by "veterans of multiple 'traditional' game studios from around the globe." Along with Hero World, Gamundo also lists Club Galactik as a project it has worked on, so it's likely that's where some of Digital Fairground's people wound up when the company went belly up.
Guitar Hero stayed dead until last year's Guitar Hero Live, which I loved but from a commercial standpoint probably should have never happened.