This is it, the end of an era… Yes, Guitar Hero is dead.
Activision announced on Wednesday that a couple of their franchises are being pulled, Guitar Hero being one of them. Isn’t it a shame that we won’t be seeing another Guitar Hero title this year?
No, not really…
I remember picking up Guitar Hero 3: Warriors of Rock a few of years ago after hearing some great things about it from friends. It took me a while to make the decision to purchase; at £75 it was a hefty outlay at the time when I should have been spending my money on something other than a miniature plastic guitar and the fact that I had never been much of a “rock” music fan, but I handed over my hard earned cash and took home my new toy. I must admit that I loved GH3; I got really into it, never to the length of buying new face plates mind you, my guitar had a name (“The Bitch” – mature, I know), I’d have friends round for a bit of co-op and I even purchased a few new tracks online. But then the novelty wore off. Three months after purchase “The Bitch” was gathering dust in the corner of my room begging to be played with. The announcement of Guitar Hero 4 as a direct competitor to Rock Band, with drums et al, meant that my guitar was going to be out of date and I didn’t want to have to buy it all again, so GH3 and The Bitch got traded in… I won’t lie, I was gutted to be getting rid of it but I didn’t see how Activision were going to move forward with the games and entice me into spending any more money on the franchise.
So, while I have some fond memories of GH3 in particular, I was never very impressed with the constant flogging of the series. That said, this seems to be the way that Activision does their business. Look at the Tony Hawk series. Tony Hawk 1 did better than expected in sales and was a pretty decent game; Tony Hawk 2 added some essentials, was well received by the critics and sold a lot. Then comes Tony Hawk 3, which is probably the best in the series after they refined the gameplay which, once again, got great reviews and the money came rolling in… then came the sequels and spin offs year after year, and the quality of the titles diminished. The Tony Hawk franchise is pretty much dead and buried; another franchise flogged to death and cast aside.
It was inevitable that Guitar Hero would be cast aside; where else is there to go with the game? You can’t expect people to pay £80 plus every year because you have made an adjustment to the peripheral required to play the game. Wouldn’t the more sensible thing have been to release a game and give it a two to three year life cycle whilst releasing a steady stream of additional tracks for fans to purchase? Add in a few new characters and environments and this would have given the studio working on the sequel time to develop a proper follow up and perhaps revolutionise the music game scene again like Rock Band did before it.
Now, I don’t pretend to know what happens inside game studios. I’m a gamer, I’m not in the industry but it is pretty obvious that innovation and creativity is not the main priority for Activision. They need to get the games out in order to make their money and, of course, it’s not just Activision. From talking to fellow gamers and reading around on forums people have reacted to the GH news saying how great it is. While I’m glad I won’t be seeing another GH title on the shelves this autumn, let’s not forget that there are also people who have lost their jobs. There are probably some fantastic talents who will not be earning any money for a while and I hope these people find a place to go where they can flex those creative muscles of theirs and create something fresh, new and innovative.
Let’s look forward shall we? What about that mightiest of all cash cows – Call of Duty? With new iterations being churned out year after year surely it will eventually go the way of Guitar Hero? It all depends how much money the titles make, so let’s see how much the next release brings, and if it doesn’t smash all known records (again) then people may start talking.
While I’m glad to see the back of the franchise, I will still look back with fondness at some of the great times it brought. So here’s to Guitar Hero – the game that made grown men and women think they were a rock star if even for just a moment; the game that made me forget I was just pressing coloured buttons on a plastic toy and, most importantly… the game that introduced most of us to Dragon force.
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