Guitar Hero career ends on a bum note

10 Feb 2011

Responding to the decline of the music game genre, the gaming company Activision Blizzard has decided to pull the plug on the Guitar Hero franchise. The news came amid one of the most successful years in the company’s history, with US$45.4bn in sales recorded for 2010.

Activision, which last night announced its quarterly results, said that due to declines in the music genre it will disband the Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue developing the game. The company also will stop development on True Crime: Hong Kong.

At the same time, the company said it is devoted to the Call of Duty franchise and is entering into a new franchise deal with Bungie, the developer behind the original Halo franchise with Microsoft.

Activision reported revenues of US$4.45bn for 2010, up from US$4.2bn the previous year.

Activision Blizzard to focus on growing online gaming franchises

“Because of focus and disciplined execution, 2010 was another extraordinary year for Activision Blizzard,” Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said. “We made some of the best games we have ever made in over 30 years of being in the interactive entertainment business.

“We benefited from new content releases for two of the world’s most successful online entertainment franchises: Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty: Black Ops and Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, a new instalment in the world’s largest subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

Kotick continued: “Activision Blizzard’s key franchises have larger audience bases than ever before and we continue to see significantly enhanced user activity and engagement for our expanding online communities. Our revenues from digital channels, which now account for over 30pc of our overall revenues, were driven by increased sales of Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty map packs and value-added services for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. Blizzard significantly evolved its direct digital distribution capabilities with the launch of its new service and saw players embrace its service offerings in record numbers.

“Notably, since Call of Duty: Black Ops was launched in November, players have spent an average of 52 minutes per day playing online, roughly equivalent to the 55 minutes that the average user spends each day on Facebook. As of February 2, 2011, more than 27m gamers have played Call of Duty games online, logging more than 2bn hours, or the equivalent of more than 229,000 years of game play.”  

“Online gaming continues to broaden its appeal. Our shareholders continue to be well positioned to benefit from these trends and the focus of our incredibly talented employees around the world continues to allow us to lead our industry. We expect to continue to drive long-term growth, increase our return on invested capital and generate strong cash flow as we have over the last few years. Activision Blizzard was the No 1 publisher overall in North America and Europe for the calendar year,” Kotick said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years