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R.I.P. Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero III

Video game publisher Activision announced today that they plan on discontinuing the Guitar Hero franchise.  This comes as no surprise as sales of the series have declined in recent years due to over saturation of the music rhythm game genre and the economic collapse in the U.S.

Activision broke the news during their latest earnings report.

“Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing’s Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011,” the company said in a statement.

This makes sense from a business standpoint as Guitar Hero games have only been selling a fraction of units compared to early titles.  The last entry in the series, Warriors of Rock, sold less than 100,000 copies in its first month of release.  That’s a far cry from 2007’s Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, which managed to bring in over $1 billion in sales.

For those that wonder why this happened, the answer is simple: Activision got too damn greedy.  And so did their rival MTV Games with the Rock Band franchise, who’s been having their own sales troubles.  There were SEVEN Guitar Hero titles released on various platforms in 2009 alone!  Talk about trying to milk a cash cow.  How much money did Activision think people had to spend on plastic instruments?  They’re lucky they have the Call of Duty franchise making tons of money for them or they would be screwed.

All is not lost for the music rhythm genre.  Activision didn’t cancel the DJ Hero series yet.  And Rock Band developer Harmonix will still make games for the franchise.  Still, it’s a shame how far from grace the once mighty Guitar Heroes and Rock Bands have fallen.

Follow Dave Kim on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

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