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Activision "abused" Guitar Hero

Says ex-boss of Red Octane.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Why did Guitar Hero die? Because Activision "abused" it.

That's the damning verdict from Kelly Sumner, the former CEO of Guitar Hero's now defunct original publisher RedOctane.

Summer, who oversaw Activision's purchase of the once all-conquering franchise, told MCV those in control of Guitar Hero "tried to get too much out of the franchise too quickly".

"They abused it. There's no reason why Guitar Hero cannot continue. It's a great product.

"My gut tells me there is still a significant market for Guitar Hero. Not every game can be a billion dollar franchise, but maybe that's what Activision wants. I'd be surprised if they sold the brand as it'd prove to the world there is still a market for this product and show them up.

"Look at how Take-Two has handled GTA. They haven't thrown products out there. They've nurtured it for over ten years and it is still a strong franchise."

Earlier this month Activision shocked the gaming world when it announced the closure of its Guitar Hero business.

"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," explained the publisher.

Summer's comments echo those of leading analysts who following the demise of the Hero franchise criticised Activision's management of it.

"By 2007 Guitar Hero was available for most platforms and Activision continued to stripmine the franchise," M2 Research analyst Billy Pidgeon told Eurogamer.

"It is relatively easy to prepare iterative versions of a music and rhythm game once the formula has been set, and this dynamic facilitated the brand's over-exposure. In 2009 Activision released five separate SKUs of Guitar Hero and the brand essentially lost its relevance."

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