Activision Using a Studio to Revitalize Guitar Hero Franchise

In a recent interview with Forbes Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated, among other things, that the publisher has dedicated a studio to revitalize the Guitar Hero franchise.

First of all, this is what the CEO had to say about innovation: “The most important thing we do to encourage innovation is give people the freedom to fail. And I think you can articulate that and establish that as a value in a lot of different ways. I don’t want to say celebrate the failures, but in a lot of respects it’s sort of that. We have what we call the post mortem process, really evaluating what is it that caused an outcome not to be aligned to the original expectation. And sometimes it’s not even like an abject failure, if the game just doesn’t sell, sometimes it’s a game that doesn’t sell as well as you would have expected, or in some cases more importantly, if it doesn’t feel like it meets the expectations of the audience”.

Additionally, Kotick explained: “I think we abandoned a bit of the innovation that was required in the Guitar Hero franchise.”

Then, he went on to say that the most requested feature on the Guitar Hero franchise was the inclusion of Led Zeppelin songs. This seemed like an almost impossible task to achieve, as Jimmy Page always publically said that he would refuse to give the band’s master recordings to the publisher. The legendary musician also believed that most people would simply be unable to mimic some of John Bonham’s drum parts, for example.

Furthermore, this was Kotick’s explanation about the topic: “The number one thing that our audiences wanted in Guitar Hero was Led Zeppelin. But we couldn’t get Led Zeppelin to consent to give us the rights. And there were a lot of instances of that, a whole host of artists who just didn’t want to give rights to Guitar Hero, and it was hard to get around that. And then there were other things… we put things out there that were not ready for prime time and that today actually would resonate very well with audiences”.

Finally, some references were made regarding DJ Hero’s failure, as the game was considered a project that Activision had always wanted to do. Unfortunately, what the company didn’t realize was that most people weren’t into the idea of being part of a DJ experience. Still, and even though the game was well-received by most video game journalists for its innovative gameplay, great soundtrack and difficulty curve, DJ Hero didn’t perform as well as expected. Later on, when DJ Hero 2 came out, the game failed to reach good sales forcing Activision to shut the whole Guitar Hero division.

Maybe the fact that the company is once again trying to “revitalize” the franchise is good news for all those people who really loved the first games in the series, but lost interest after playing the same thing over and over again.