Activision ends the Guitar Hero franchise, axes True Crime: Hong Kong

Activision's 2010 financial report has revealed that the publisher is ceasing production of new Guitar Hero games and canning True Crime: Hong Kong.

"Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing's Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011," said the report. "These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world's best interactive entertainment experiences."

In an investor call today, Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explained further:

"Despite a remarkable 92 rating on DJ Hero 2, a widely well-regarded Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, as well as a 90-plus rated release from our most direct competitor [Rock Band 3], demand for peripheral-based music games declined at a dramatic pace. Given the considerable licensing and manufacturing costs associated with this genre, we simply cannot make these games profitabe based on current economics and demand. Instead, what we'll do is focus our time and energies on marketing and supporting our strong catalog of titles and downloadable content, especially to new consumers as the installed base for hardware continues to grow."

Regarding True Crime, Hirshberg explained that it wasn't capable of being a top contender in the "competitive open-world genre," adding, "To be blunt, it just wasn't going to be good enough."

United Front Games, the developer of True Crime: Hong Kong, posted a statement on its website:

"We are sorry we did not get a chance to complete this project with Activision, but we understand why. We are both committed to doing quality games and nothing less. Maybe we will have a chance to work together in the future, but in the meantime we are setting our creative sights on a different horizon."

Eurogamer also reports that DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games has suffered "severe layoffs."

Wow, that's a lot of news. Activision just dropped a news-clear bomb (like, nuclear, only news), or possibly something cleverer. Anyway, though it seems that Activision will continue to support existing Guitar Hero games with DLC, it sounds like the era is pretty much over.

We're a little conflicted. While Activision may be correct to cite a "decline in the music genre" - the zeitgeist must move on - it fails to mention the part where it RAN THE SERIES INTO THE GROUND LIKE A BP OIL DRILL. Our hearts go out to those who lost their jobs during this restructuring, but will we miss seeing giant stacks of wasted plastic at Best Buy? Guess, and give us your reaction in the comments.

Feb 9, 2011


  • actionpacked247 - February 14, 2011 4:32 p.m.

    That blows! I love all the music games! But it's a business decision, and I respect that. U will be missed!
  • Spybreak8 - February 13, 2011 3:20 a.m.

    Sure they were milking it to death but does because I didn't buy the last one you're killing the whole idea!? Man I hope they'll continue to support GH with dlc. Oh they're not going to do that anymore after Feb huh. Well I hope they kill Tony Hawk, wait they're keeping that idea?!
  • Nyle91 - February 12, 2011 7:27 a.m.

    Activision has now officially proven itself to be completely incapable at knowing how to sell a product. With a bit of strategy, guitar hero could have sold, Rock Band took a year off from making a full game, and released 2 band specific games, and worked on developing a whole new way to play the game. Guitar hero seemed to be taking the strategy of sports games, where a very small, almost insignificant improvement/gameplay mechanic was added...Also, Rock Band allowed easier access to songs you have downloaded previously, and ones that were in previous games...being a Guitar hero fanboy, it kind of sucks to say that Rock Band had a superior marketing strategy... Also, about true crime, Canceling a game because they know it would sell...really? There are obviously some dedicated fans out there to this series, and some good marketing, maybe a downloadable demo, and you will get more fans of the series, but to just give up, and with people really wanting this game...sigh I hope it never comes to the point where I end up working for least not under this kind of stupidity...
  • marioman50 - February 11, 2011 3:19 a.m.

    Don't tell me GTA rip-offs are going outta style too! Aww shit! Hopefully these teams can move on to greener pastures in that won't be (True Crime team excluded) making the same game, year after year.
  • vza004 - February 11, 2011 2:27 a.m.

    You know what can revive Guitar Hero? Japanese songs!!
  • Darkhawk - February 10, 2011 11:31 p.m.

    I have to say, I'm so happy Harmonix was bought out and made the move elsewhere with Rock Band. While Activision, as they say, milked it dry, Harmonix has continued to innovate (and hopefully will some more). But where's my Amplitude 2 (no, that was Phase), er 3 (no, that was Rock Band Unplugged), er 4?
  • FanofSaiyan - February 10, 2011 10:50 p.m.

    @reallylongusername Axing those franchises wasn't a smart move seeing as a Family Guy or Transformers game would sell exponentially less than Guitar Hero or Tony Hawk...
  • D0CCON - February 10, 2011 10:27 p.m.

    @garnsr The reason you liked GH2 was because Activision didn't make it, Harmonix did. That was the last main GH they made before making Rock Band. The reason you didn't mind GH3 was because it was the very first time Activision got their hands on it so they couldn't have pounded it into the dirt yet. Just thought I'd be annoying by saying that, now I'm done.
  • HitmanSB07 - February 10, 2011 9:26 p.m.

    I never thought that Activision were as bad as people said...Though I do now. They're obviously going to focus on solely on Call of Duty games now.
  • ifthisusernameisntreadonthepodcastthekittengetsit - February 10, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    Wait, Activision actually did something, smart? DEAR LORD, THE END IS NIGH!
  • nwnfan98 - February 10, 2011 8:46 p.m.

    WTF Activision first singularity fails now your canning true crime hong kong FUCK YOU if you think this is bs don't buy modern warfare 3 when it comes out
  • chriszewski - February 10, 2011 5:55 p.m.

    Conflicted indeed.
  • Pruman - February 10, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    CoryRX8 nailed it near the beginning. Kotick basically decided that a pile of golden eggs now was better than golden eggs in perpetuity. I loved Guitar Hero before World Tour, and the games themselves were generally solid, but I doubt that the music genre would have died out so quickly if Activision hadn't acted like Hell's Ironic Punishment Division and force-fed us new games every 3-6 months. They shoulder most of the blame, but I also blame Harmonix for franchise whoring (although to a much lesser extent than Activision and GH) since they could have released DLC for Rock Band forever and called it a day. I'm glad they didn't (the numbered sequels have real fixes and improvements to the formula), but I could see how people jaded by the Guitar Hero blitz could think otherwise. There's a reason most franchises get one or at most two new games a year. Any more, and you risk burning out the fans and turning them against you. I mean, pick any franchise you dearly love, and ask yourself if you could honestly play 3-6 games a year that came out for it. I know I couldn't.
  • Ridgley - February 10, 2011 2:45 p.m.

    Thank god! Those boxes on the shelves are too damn big.
  • PopeLikeDope - February 10, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    All guitar heroes after 3 sucked.
  • Anjaneya - February 10, 2011 10:29 a.m.

    Oh no, gutted! I was really looking forward to Hong Kong. My heart goes out to everyone who's looking for a new job now.
  • AngryScotsman - February 10, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    By Galactus... it happened.
  • KidKatana - February 10, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    "We are both committed to doing quality games and nothing less." Does United Front Games only consist of 2 people? Also, don't really care about GH...always thought real guitars were more fun. However, it is rather depressing that Activision can apparently sweep its relentless pimping of the franchise under the carpet.
  • 510BrotherPanda - February 10, 2011 9:59 a.m.

    I never bought into Guitar Hero. In fact, I'm still disappointed the "music/rhythm game" genre went in this direction. I wish iNiS made another sequel to ELITE BEAT AGENTS...
  • LastPariah - February 10, 2011 9:59 a.m.

    What strong catalog of games? What really is left besides CoD?

Showing 1-20 of 74 comments

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