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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 10, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    Guitar Hero RIP

    Ciara O'Brien

    For many, Guitar Hero was the only chance of picking up something that vaguely looked like a guitar and actually making proper use of it. But Activision has decided to pull the plug on a games franchise that was once hailed as a “cultural phenomenon”.

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    In a statement yesterday, the company blamed “continued declines in the music genre” for the move.

    And the effect will be pretty swift. It is disbanding the Guitar Hero unit and discontinuing development on its 2011 game. That means hundreds of people out of work, and an end to games such as Band Hero, and DJ Hero.

    It’s a series that came in with a bang and went out with a whimper. When the first Guitar Hero was launched, it sold about 1.5 million copies. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is said to have sold 1.4 million¬† in just five days. In seven days, it made $115 million in the US alone. Fast forward to the last effort, Warriors of Rock in 2010, and it sold only 86,000 copies in the US in five days.

    The writing was on the wall.

    Still, Activision has had a good run of it. In between Guitar Hero 1-6 there was special editions such as Guitar Hero Aerosmith, Metallica, Van Halen, and Rocks the 80s. It made its way from the Playstation 2 to the next generation consoles, the PS3, XBox 360 and Wii. It even managed an iPhone app and a DS version. Downloadable packs, extra controllers; no wonder it’s earned some $2 billion at retail.

    The company tried to branch out into DJ games, with two DJ Hero titles, and take on the threat posed by Rockband with Band Hero.

    But music games – at least in this form – appear to have had their day. The high costs associated with the genre – licensing the music from labels, manufacturing the obligatory plastic controllers that cost a small fortune for gamers to buy – and dwindling sales have put paid to that.

    And in December, the company behind Rock Band,  Harmonix Music Systems, was sold off by Viacom. MTV Games has also gone by the wayside, if reports are true.

    Guitar Hero is not the only victim of the Activision cull. Also being shelved is True Crime: Hong Kong

    Instead, Activision is planning on turning its attention to Call of Duty, invest in online gaming and is building up hopes for an unnamed project Bungie is working on.