Why Guitar Hero is No More and the Same Won’t Happen for COD
There are a lot of opinions out there about this but a lot of them are missing the point and letting their dislike of Activision cloud their views.
First of all Activision shut down production of further Guitar Hero games because they didn’t sell enough to warrant further sequels. Why didn’t they sell? Competition with themselves and the competitor. Music games were initially very profitable not only because they were a cultural phenomenon but because they could sell high margin peripherals to consumers. But once you have a guitar or two you don’t need another and the people wanting to buy further plastic instruments (drums, microphone) were limited.
Then you have superior competition with Harmonix’s Rock Band series of games which were more critically received. So with the many music games out there it was always hard to continue to sell millions compared to the early days when there was only one game in town with Guitar Hero 1 & 2 (not including Konami music games which have a niche market).
Then the other problem is that theses games have huge music licensing cost with around 70 songs in the more recent games. There is no reason to have so many songs on the disk, they should have cut down the number of songs and let people choose or buy their favourites. This is also where competition reared its ugly head forcing Activision and Harmonix to top each other with the amount of songs included on the disk.
The last issue is the lack of innovation, if you can’t continually make the core game better you have to change the model. Release a core game and continually update it instead of releasing new games. Harmonix were better with innovation with Rock Band but there was still not much they could do to keep the popularity up. In the end the Rock Band franchise is in a similiar position to Guitar Hero but not as dire.
One last thing I want to touch on is the certainty that people talk about that the same thing will happen to the Call of Duty franchise. This isn’t going to happen any time soon as the games are still selling extremely well, there is a lot of room for innovation in the shooter genre and they only release one game a year (and alternate each year with a modern shooter or historical shooter). I would say even there is room for two a year if the rumours are true that they will add a third person COD in addition to the current model. But this is as long as they can keep the quality of their games up to their high standards.