Activision Cancels Guitar (and DJ) Hero… And I AM Sad


Yesterday was a sad, sad day for music game fans as Activision has confirmed that after several layoffs hit some of their studios… Guitar Hero and DJ Hero are no more. Smaller than usual revenues for their last two music games (that would be DJ Hero 2 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock) pushed Activision to shut down that division of their business so they can focus in what gives them the most profit: more Call of Duty, the next episode of Starcract 2 and giving us a special glow in the dark mount for World of Warcraft every three months.

I LOVE Guitar Hero, ever since the first one was released on the PS2. I took an immediate liking to DJ Hero after trying out a demo unit at a Toys R Us a couple of months after it was released. I own two PS2 wired guitars along with GH 1-3 and Rocks the 80′s, own a full band kit from World Tour along with Guitar Hero 5, GH Metallica, Van Halen, Smash Hits and Aerosmith and I’ve got all the tracks from Band Hero as imported content (thanks sis!) on an SD card. All of these are for the Wii (yep, you CAN own more than one console. Go figure!) in case you were wondering.

I’ll miss the franchise since I mostly play drums and the drumming in Rock Band is too much of a stretch for me since the floor tom will magically change into a ride cymbal, then into a crash cymbal and then into a cowbell. Sure, adding the “Pro” kit for Rock Band 3 would take it closer to a proper drum kit experience but that’s an add-on that wasn’t fully supported before. I DO own Rock Band 2, Beatles Rock Band and Lego Rock Band but mainly because I got each for $10 and for that price I can survive some weird drumming here and there.

I hope that Activision realizes that music games should be a “once every two years” deal and not a “hey, we’ll launch six in eight months!” Eureka moment. I liked the way that Warriors of Rock’s career mode was handled and the soundtrack in DJ Hero 2 is worth the price of admission by itself. Guess I’ll have to make do with the DLC they’ll release for the rest of Q1 and Q2 before they pull the plug.

Should have seen this coming after Harmonix got sold a couple of months ago…


Written by: EdEN - PR / Editor-In-Chief


  1. #1 by Beastxjason on February 10th, 2011 [ 27516 Points ]

    nooooooooo! So many fun family nights with GH sniff I feel bad for the people who lost their jobs over this. Good article.

  2. #2 by Sakinah on February 10th, 2011 [ 26489 Points ]

    Like most ppl I got started on music games w/Guitar Hero for the PS2 but I’ve since moved on to Rock Band w/out looking back.

    It’s a shame Activision chose to layoff 500 people instead of actually trying to make the series work.

  3. #3 by Ferrari on February 10th, 2011

    Sounds exactly like something Activision would do.

    I never liked them all that much

  4. #4 by hobbes on February 10th, 2011 [ 30071 Points ]

    Go rock band

  5. #5 by Eddie on February 10th, 2011 [ 44542 Points ]

    Am I the only one that is happy? lol kidding…never wished it ill will…but can’t stand guitarhero/rockband type games.

    Problem is Activision watered the genre down with yearly releases of the same thing killing sales.

  6. #6 by EdEN on February 10th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @Eddie: Well, the same can be said about Madden and CoD and those sell like crazy. If the soundtrack is good, then the game is fun.

  7. #7 by Blackstaffer on February 10th, 2011 [ 7211 Points ]

    Harmonix made their name with Frequency and then Amplitude on the PS2. My friends and I enjoyed them both quite a bit. Then Guitar Hero 1 & 2 came out and they were great. Played them all. Harmonix was bought out and released Rock Band instead of continuing with Guitar Hero, and my friends and I played Rock Band 1, 2, and now 3. I enjoy them all.

    Too bad about Guitar Hero being cancelled, I enjoyed the franchise. But too many of them were being released. I’m a Rock Band guy now.

  8. #8 by EdEN on February 10th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @Blackstaffer: Know what’s weird? I own Frequency and Amplitude and had a blast back in the day but I tried to play Rock Band on my PSP and it felt weird. Maybe it has to do with keeping track of 4 highways with 4 buttons each instead of just 3 buttons per highway on the PS2…

  9. #9 by Jay on February 10th, 2011 [ 83111 Points ]

    After Rock Band came out, I jumped ship, because, IMO, it was a much better franchise anyway.

  10. #10 by EdEN on February 10th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @Jay: To each their own. For me, as I’ve said in the post, drumming in RB felt weird and unnatural. Had a blast with GH Metallica. Might get Greenday RB for $10 as I did with the other RB games.

  11. #11 by Jonaskin on February 10th, 2011

    I LOVED GHIII but since getting Rock Band and Rock Band 2 I haven’t revisited any of the other ‘Hero’ games. This is a shame though. They were good games (the first few and GH: Metallica at least, and by all accounts DJ Hero is amazing) but I guess they just milked them for as long as they could. I can see it happening to COD next. And it’s already happened to Tony Hawk, I’d put money on that series being cancelled shortly too.

    Maybe I’ll be able to pick up a cheap copy of DJ Hero though, so that’s a plus.

    Controversial business practices aside though, Activision do make some damn fine games so I’m not about to boycott them or anything.

    Oh and I didn’t see it mentioned above but at the same time they’ve also cancelled True Crime: Hong Kong if anyone was interested in that. I personally never played any of the True Crime games, they just seemed like a poor GTA clone so I’m not really too bothered about that.

  12. #12 by EdEN on February 10th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @Jonaskin: If they hadn’t released Band Hero, Van Halen and Smash Hits we might still have a new GH in 2011 since those seem to be the biggest “offenders” in the public’s view.

  13. #13 by Captiosus on February 10th, 2011

    Don’t forget that HMX is also hurting.

    The window of success for the music genre has pretty much slammed shut and, honestly, the only people Activision and Harmonix have to blame for it are themselves. The one year window between Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2 worked because the genre of guitar/band sim was in its infancy and DLC didn’t play a part. After Activision and HMX split and we got the Guitar Hero/Rock Band battle, the genre rapidly exploded and became saturated. Between 2007 and 2010 – a short three years – name the titles, put out by these companies alone (ignoring the clones like Rock Revolution):

    Guitar Hero 3, Rock Band, Guitar Hero World Tour, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, The Beatles: Rock Band, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Lego Rock Band, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Green Day: Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5, Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

    THIRTEEN titles, combined, in THREE years.
    That’s how you saturate a market and make people tired of a genre.

    The only music genre games that have been fresh have been DJ Hero, which never really had great mixes IMO, and Dance Central. Harmonix will be able to ride the Dance Central train for a while, but I’m not sure how long the dance genre will last, as that’s already starting to get crowded.

  14. #14 by Beastxjason on February 10th, 2011 [ 27516 Points ]

    Captiosus: Don’t forget that HMX is also hurting.The window of success for the music genre has pretty much slammed shut and, honestly, the only people Activision and Harmonix have to blame for it are themselves. The one year window between Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2 worked because the genre of guitar/band sim was in its infancy and DLC didn’t play a part. After Activision and HMX split and we got the Guitar Hero/Rock Band battle, the genre rapidly exploded and became saturated. Between 2007 and 2010 – a short three years – name the titles, put out by these companies alone (ignoring the clones like Rock Revolution):Guitar Hero 3, Rock Band, Guitar Hero World Tour, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, The Beatles: Rock Band, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Lego Rock Band, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Green Day: Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5, Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.THIRTEEN titles, combined, in THREE years.
    That’s how you saturate a market and make people tired of a genre.The only music genre games that have been fresh have been DJ Hero, which never really had great mixes IMO, and Dance Central. Harmonix will be able to ride the Dance Central train for a while, but I’m not sure how long the dance genre will last, as that’s already starting to get crowded.  

    Very well said.

  15. #15 by Captiosus on February 10th, 2011

    Beastxjason:
    Very well said.  

    Thank you for the compliment!

    Although I should point out my own error in that I mistakenly said 3 years when, in fact, it’s been 3.5 years since the appearance of the Guitar Hero 3/Rock Band rivalry.

    Still, it’s a crap ton of games. If we add in Band Hero and DJ Hero, it brings the total up to 16 in 3.5 years. That’s insane, and no one could ever expect that pace to remain. I’m not entirely sure we’ll see a Rock Band beyond 3, given Harmonix’s current financial situations, and, as much as I hate to agree with Activision, the cost of licensing songs is pretty substantial. I think HMX is going to have to make a choice as to whether they want to continue with Dance Central or Rock Band, or, perhaps, some crafty financial way of maintaining both in alternating years. The biggest issue I see with HMX riding Dance Central is that the dance genre has been popular on the Wii for a while now, and it’s only natural that the respective companies are going to try to bring those titles to both Move and Kinect in the not-so-distant future.

  16. #16 by Kane112 on February 10th, 2011 [ 33422 Points ]

    never got right into these game but its a shame that now it will only really be one company making these type of games

  17. #17 by SicSemperTyranis on February 10th, 2011 [ 6405 Points ]

    First Activision milked Tony Hawk to death. Now they killed Guitar Hero. Call of Duty you are next….

  18. #18 by EdEN on February 10th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    Will it ever get to the point when CoD doesn’t sell enough for Activision? It’s like saying Madden will sell less each ye… wait.

  19. #19 by Oly on February 10th, 2011 [ 131925 Points ]

    I also jumped ship to RockBand and been with them since. It’s too bad they are closing up, but they tried to push too much too fast IMO.

  20. #20 by Captiosus on February 10th, 2011

    SicSemperTyranis: First Activision milked Tony Hawk to death. Now they killed Guitar Hero. Call of Duty you are next….  

    IMO the comparison of Guitar Hero and Call of Duty is off base, even though it pains me to say this because I’m not a big fan of CoD. The comparison is flawed because in the span of time Activision published 4 Call of Duty titles ( (2007-2010: MW, W@W, MW2, BlackOps), there were 7 Guitar Hero titles, 1 Band Hero title and 2 DJ Hero titles. CoD is on a rather regular schedule, annually. The music *Hero titles were coming out at an average of 1 game every 4.2 months.

    Additionally, while there are competitors in the military shooter genre, none of CoD’s competitors are cranking out titles on almost the exact release schedule in the same genre like EA/MTV/Harmonix was against Guitar Hero. Overall, the military shooter, while undoubtedly stale, isn’t becoming AS saturated AS fast as the music genre did in such a short period of time.

    As long as they keep CoD on a fairly regular annual schedule, I have no doubt it will continue to sell well. If it gets to the point where they’re trying to sell them one-game-every-6 months, and EA starts cranking out Battlefield and MoH sequels in the same time frame, THEN I’d fully expect CoD to die off like Tony Hawk or Guitar Hero.

  21. #21 by Markus on February 11th, 2011 [ 4322 Points ]

    I’m not a huge fan of these types of games but I hope that DJ Hero 2 gets a nice price drop ^^

  22. #22 by EdEN on February 11th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @Markus: My guess is that around June all stock left of GH will be sent to retailers at a 40% discount for them to price as they wish just to clear up a warehouse or two on activision’s side.

  23. #23 by EdEN on February 11th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @Oly: I couldn’t get into Rock Band. I played RB1 and sorta had fun but the drumming was waaaaaaaaaaaaay off and since that’s what I play I skipped the rest of the RB releases until they went for a huuuuge discount that could help me justify a purchase. Will probably do the same for RB3 and the keyboard. My guess is $60 for the whole thing in december 2011…

  24. #24 by Markus on February 12th, 2011 [ 4322 Points ]

    Sweet :D

  25. #25 by MAINEiac4434 on February 15th, 2011 [ 3494 Points ]

    Guitar Hero has been dead for awhile, but DJ Hero could’ve become a good franchise. DJ Hero 2 had some pretty bad songs on it, but I was hoping it was just a sophomore slump.

    Still, sad to see two modern classic franchise be gone…one well before it’s prime, the other well passed it.

  26. #26 by EdEN on February 15th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    Both franchises might be back for the next round of consoles in 2-3 years once demand is back… unless the genre dies like disco.

  27. #27 by WakYasuk on February 15th, 2011 [ 140 Points ]

    I wanted to see True Crime Hong Kong..but guess not anymore..TC NYC gave me lots of enjoyment and I replayed it a lot. The melee fighting was one of the best in the video game genre, but the shooting/cover/3ps was annoying quite frankly. Typical story.

  28. #28 by EdEN on February 16th, 2011 [ 136063 Points ]

    @WakYasuK: Never played True Crime so I can’t really talk about the cancelled PS3/360 game BUT if a sequel was being made then I guess there are enough fans out there. Hope the game resurfaces in a reworked version eventually.


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