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… and then there were none – Guitar Hero disbanded


February 9, 2011

Activision has canceled development of any new Guitar Hero games (Image: Modified from Matthew Gravelyn original)

Activision has canceled development of any new Guitar Hero games (Image: Modified from Matthew Gravelyn original)

It wasn’t all that long ago that rhythm-based games were sweeping all before them and plastic guitar controllers and drum kits were popping up in living rooms and bedrooms around the world at an astonishing rate. It seems many of those controllers are now gathering dust, leading Activision to announce it will “disband” its Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011.

The Activision announcement comes on the heels of Viacom selling off Harmonix, which got the rhythm-based game ball rolling by launching Guitar Hero in 2005 before moving over to Viacom in 2006 to create Rock Band for Viacom’s MTV Games. It was reported that MTV Games was being dissolved but a spokesman says that is not the case but that it has ceased publishing operations.

Viacom sold Harmonix last December for just US$50 to Columbus Nova, a private investment firm based in New York with the low price tag due to the liabilities the company will also inherit. Viacom said it had failed to turn a profit on any of the three Rock Band games released between 2007 and 2009 and would reap tax benefits of around US$150 million through the sale.

The Activision and Viacom announcements are an indication of just how quickly things can change in the video game business and leaves Harmonix – now back to being an independent studio – the only likely source for new guitar controller strumming content. The company says it plans to release more DLC for Rock Band in the future and continue support for previously released titles.

Although guitar controller-based rhythm games still have their fans, it seems they’ve had their time at the top of the charts – at least for the time being. Maybe someone can get the band back together and we’ll see a reunion tour in a few years.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Rockband 3 Pro - will likely keep the rhythm game industry going for a few more years. As will conversion of the old DLC for use with keyboards, Pro Drums, Pro Guitar. This new format using the 102 keyed Mustang Pro and Fender Strat Hybrid with real strings certainly makes these games more realistic and turns gaming into learning to play real instruments.

Henry Rody

Usually when you have a successful product and the company is still doing bad/closes down, you track the fault to bad management. How can you loose with such a big hit? You let a bunch of morons make the decisions.

Ender Wigin
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