Game over for Guitar Hero? Not so fast. According to Activision Vice President of Developer Relations Dan Winters, “we’re just putting the [popular music game series] on hiatus, we’re not ending it.
“We’re releasing products out of the vault. . . . The brand won’t go away. We’re just not making a new one for next year, that’s all,” he recently told gaming industry trade GamesIndustry.biz. However, despite Activision announcing its intentions in February to kill the multibillion-dollar music game franchise, which made play on plastic instruments a modern-day cultural touchstone, these new revelations should come as little surprise to video game fans.
To the lay observer, sales of music games appeared to suddenly and spectacularly implode, falling to less than $300 million in 2010, off from an all-time high of $1.7 billion just two years earlier. Nonetheless, popular music gaming selections such as Tap Tap Revenge 4 continue to thrive on digital, online, mobile and social platforms, leading industry insiders to speculate months ago of a future rebirth for Guitar Hero on all-new platforms.
Whether the series’ sudden reversal of fortune is mere coincidence, or is timed to respond to UbiSoft’s announcement of rival title Rocksmith, which allows users to play on real guitars, remains uncertain. But with Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock recently revealed as the bestselling video game launched in the U.S. since 1995, it doesn’t take a genius to surmise that the fat lady hasn’t sung — or played her last note — for the celebrated series just yet.