Thursday, February 10, 2011

Of Heroes and Bands

First Rock Band, now this?

I can't say I'm surprised, Activision's merciless exploitation of the music genre in the height of its popularity may have something large to do with this, but as of right now, the Guitar Hero franchise is dead. Much to this writer's chagrin, this means DJ Hero is gone as well.


Losing the former isn't much of a concern to me. The series descended into self-parody and a caricature of it's former self the minute Harmonix jumped ship and chose to innovate elsewhere with Rock Band. Activision spent an unusual amount of time trying to play catchup, in turn choosing to oversaturate the market with titles and costly controllers instead of innovate on a fundamental level, and consumers responded by closing their wallets. For me at least, the Guitar Hero series died in late 2007 when the Neversoft developed Legends of Rock came out.

Even Slash can't completely cover up mediocrity. See what I did there?

I digress though. Losing the latter franchise? Hurts a bit. I saw the DJ Hero series as a fresh new start for the music genre, and one that was sorely needed after overall music sales began to decline. It was innovative, fun, and most of all, it had a boundless sort of creative potential that could've lasted. This didn't change the fact that it suffered an expensive controller of its own, and even I felt something was amiss when despite how excellent I felt DJ Hero 2 was, none of my friends or even customers I've spoken to shared my enthusiasm. Overstocked game/turntable bundles selling for $59.99 at my local Best Buy didn't soothe my nerves any better, though I saw it as an opportunity for the game to reach a wider install base. Baseless optimism.

Regardless, with these cuts come statements of intent from the mega-publisher, and they're already making me laugh:

"..In 2011, the company will allocate the majority of its resources and focus toward opportunities which we expect will afford us the greatest competitive advantages and the greatest potential for best-in-class quality, high-margin digital growth, and long-term success.."

Loosely translated? Continue collecting revenue from World of Warcraft and continue to exploit the Call of Duty franchise. It's funny watching this happen repeatedly. At the start of this generation, Activision was busy wringing the once-untouchable Tony Hawk franchise for every last drop. This was a process that doomed the series with consistent mediocrity leading up to the ill fated Tony Hawk: Ride and its plastic skateboard. Guitar Hero was a revolution, but after Harmonix's departure and success with Rock Band, Activision elected to release so many Guitar Hero titles that consumers wouldn't know which one to buy, and now the series has been killed following the story based rhythm "quest" Warriors of Rock. Men made mice. Gods made mortals.

The success of a franchise is not a go-ahead to beat us around the head with it in various untelligible shades until we're sick of your chicanery, Activision.

"Hey man, I don't know what they were thinking either."

Get ready, Call of Duty, with your $15 map packs and annual releases. You're about to be killed too.

I know I'm already sick of military shooters because of this franchise. How about you?

Sources: Neoseeker,Eurogamer

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