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

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer