It’s an ignominious exit for a title that was once touted as the first great game franchise of the 21st century. “Guitar Hero” was created in 2005 by indie studio RedOctane, in collaboration with Harmonix, which had previously found success with the “Karaoke Revolution” franchise.
“Karaoke Revolution,” where players plugged microphones into their consoles and were scored on the accuracy of their singing, was the first game to show a significant number of videogamers were interested in making “music.” RedOctane’s “Guitar Hero” proved they were equally interested in shredding a plastic guitar.
Activision purchased the franchise in 2006 for $100 million; to date it has shipped more than 25 million units for a roughly $2 billion ROI. “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” made $1 billion on its own. Harmonix went on to publish the highly successful “Rock Band” franchise, which added drums, microphones and keyboards to the plastic guitar mix.
How the mighty have fallen. The holiday season was a disastrous one for the music game genre. First Harmonix was sold by Viacom to a consortium of shareholders; the terms were undisclosed, but it was reported to be a fire sale. MTV Games, which collaborated with Harmonix on “Rock Band,” was shut down. “Guitar Heroes: Warriors of Rock,” the sixth title in the series, received lackluster reviews and even more lackluster sales.
Hard to believe after 25 million sold.