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Activision Quits the Band

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BEHIND THE MUSIC
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At the end of 2009, the glimmer was starting to fade from the plastic Stratocaster.

By 2010, the music game genre -- which included Activision's Guitar Hero and MTV's Rock Band series -- had crawled to $700 million for the year. That amount was roughly half of what music games collected in 2008. Because of a saturated market and a fading novelty, tapping along to The Eagles and Steely Dan didn't hold the same cachet as it once did.

And now, a year later, Activision has suffered the precipitous fall in interest and sales -- despite DJ Hero's fun turntable twist on the genre. As such, the game developer has announced it will discontinue both the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero franchises.

In a press release discussing quarterly and annual financial results, the company said, "[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." On an investor call, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg added DJ Hero to the cancellation list.

"Despite a remarkable 92 rating on DJ Hero 2, a well-regarded Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, as well as a 90-plus release from our most direct competitor, demand for peripheral based music games declined at a dramatic pace," Hirshberg said.

He added, "Given the considerable licensing and manufacturing costs associated with this genre, we simply can't make these games profitably based on current markets and demand."

It's a shame, too. Guitar Hero was a party game through and through -- inviting countless late night jam sessions traded off between buddies who were inebriated out of their minds. In other words, Activision deftly captured what it meant to be in a band.

But as previously stated, an excess of titles barely even appealed to completists. Other than the new turntable peripheral with DJ Hero, each subsequent Guitar Hero title didn't add much to the gameplay. You're still tapping out notes to Interpol and Muse to unlock other stages. Even bands get tired of playing their songs.

With releases on the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Windows, Mac -- and even portable platforms like the Nintendo DS, iPhone, and Android -- Activision rode the music genre wave quite handily.

But like a band past its prime, it knew when to call it quits.

(See also: Video Gamers Have Quit the Band)

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