February 10, 2011

Once Popular Guitar Hero Franchise Ending

Aspiring musicians will have to find new video games to live out their rock star fantasies, as Activision Blizzard has announced plans to shelve the "Guitar Hero" franchise due to declining popularity.

The Southern California based software publisher made the revelation while announcing their quarterly earnings on Wednesday. Activision Blizzard also added that they planned to shut down the development house responsible for the "Guitar Hero" titles, discontinue the "DJ Hero" and "True Crime" franchises, and lay off 500 of the company's approximately 7,000 employees.

"The company says music games are expensive to manufacture, between the licensing fees for the songs and the cost of making the hardware such as plastic guitars and microphones," BBC News reported on Thursday, adding that the company would continue "to sell and support" the existing 14 versions of the "Guitar Hero" franchise released since 2005.

Activision Publishing Chief Executive Eric Hirshberg told the British news agency that the company "simply cannot make these games profitable based on current economics."

Officials at the company told AFP that they would focus their efforts primarily on the "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" series of video games. According to the French news agency, the most recent "Call of Duty" title, "Black Ops," has earned more than a billion dollars in worldwide sales since its November release, and that the "World of Warcraft" expansion "Cataclysm" became the fastest-selling PC game of all time, moving over 3.3 million copies in the first 24 hours following its December release.

"Activision reported that it lost $233 million on net revenue of $1.43 billion in the final three months of 2010. It finished the year with a net profit of $418 million on annual net revenue of $4.45 billion," AFP reported on Wednesday, adding that the company's stock value "dropped more than seven percent to $10.84 cents per share in trading that followed release of the earnings report, evidently due to a forecast that revenue this year would be less than it was in 2010."

Ultimately, "Guitar Hero" was done in by its own longevity, according to Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter.

"In retrospect it was a $3 billion or more business that everybody needed to buy, so they did, but they only needed to buy it once," said Pachter told the Associated Press (AP). "It's much like 'Wii Fit.' Once you have it, you don't need to buy another one."


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