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In a new interview, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says that Guitar Hero isn't just idling on some shelf. The franchise is being re-designed.
Kotick told Forbes that the series declined because they had "abandoned a bit of the innovation that was required." They decided that they needed to stop producing sequels until they could get that creative spark back.
"So we made what I think was exactly the right decision last year. We said you know what, we need to regain our audience interest, and we really need to deliver inspired innovation," Kotick said. So we’re going to take the products out of the market, and we’re not going to tell anybody what we’re doing for awhile, but we’re going to stop selling Guitar Hero altogether."
"And then we’re going to go back to the studios and we’re going to use new studios and reinvent Guitar Hero. And so that’s what we’re doing with it now."
It remains to be seen what they'll do to rework the series. I don't know that the actual gameplay design is at fault, though. The more likely culprit is Activision's attempt to release like eighty fucking Guitar Hero games in a single year.
Look at 2009. During that year, Activision released Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, Guitar Hero 5 Mobile and Guitar Hero Arcade. They treated the music genre like it was some never-ending river of money and that they simply needed as many buckets as possible to scoop it all up. It didn't occur to them that people don't want to buy seven roughly similar games a year.
No word on when Guitar Hero will be back. I assume they'll try next year. Hopefully they only release one game, though.