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Activision Shuts Down Music Division

by Karlie Yeung - February 9, 2011, 9:06 pm PST
Total comments: 34 Source: http://investor.activision.com/releasedetail.cfm?R...

Guitar Hero team among 500 layoffs confirmed in a financial report.

The Guitar Hero team at Activision has been disbanded, and the 2011 game release has been cancelled. The series will continue only through downloadable content. This is due to declining sales in the music game genre. The DJ Hero series meets the same fate, as the entire music division will close down.

"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," CEO of Activision Publishing Eric Hirshberg stated.

Development of the shooter, True Crime: Hong Kong, due for release in 2011 has also been cancelled. There will not be a Tony Hawk game released this year as all music and skateboarding releases have been cancelled.

It is not clear yet exactly how the company-wide 500 employee cut will affect Guitar Hero developers Vicarious Visions or DJ Hero developers Freestyle Games. A resource refocus means that a new studio, Beachhead, will be created to handle online community, content and services for the Call of Duty games.

Talkback

ShyGuyFebruary 09, 2011

HAHAHAHAHA

sorry to hear about the job loss, but DIE MUSIC GAMES DIE

Kytim89February 09, 2011

Is it just me or does it seem as if Activision is going to depend on their one IP, Call of Duty, and forsake all other franchises? It seems as if Call of Duty is the new Guitar Hero and we had better prepare for a new iteration of that series every year until it finally gets stale.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusFebruary 09, 2011

Way to go. *Slow clap*

It takes serious talent to grind an entire genere into dust. It takes a special kind of retardation to kill TWO generes. This requires that you defy all forms of incompetence known to science to do this while sucking on WOW money and then threaten your one last remaining original IPs with the same death as those that have gone before.

A Darwin Award doesn't even begin to cover this.

EnnerFebruary 09, 2011

First Harmonix being cut off in to the wild and now this, it looks like this heyday of rhythm games is at an end.


What really makes me sad is the cancellation of True Crime: Hong Kong. I love vacationing in that city and was looking forward to playing an crime-themed action video game set there.

BlackNMild2k1February 09, 2011

Quote from: Kytim89

Is it just me or does it seem as if Activision is going to depend on their one IP, Call of Duty, and forsake all other franchises? It seems as if Call of Duty is the new Guitar Hero and we had better prepare for a new iteration of that series every year until it finally gets stale.

I think that is exactly what they are gonna do
Activision announced new studio to create online CoD content

broodwarsFebruary 10, 2011

Well, I can't say I'll miss the flood of overpriced plastic instruments in stores every Christmas year-round.  I do feel sorry for the folks that Activsion are now laying off when it was incompetence at the highest level of Activsion that caused the market to become oversaturated and self-destruct.  I can only hope that Call of Duty will meet a similar fate.  While I enjoy my fair share of First Person Shooters, that genre's been long-overdue for a general culling with everything copying CoD 4's multiplayer and very few games advancing the genre.

Scatt-ManFebruary 10, 2011

oohhhboy said it best. News article over. They have absolutely no one else to blame but themselves. People are losing their jobs over this... So there's another poinsoned slice in the already-decaying flesh that is Activision's public image. EA was never this bad, were they? In both the seeming abuse of IPs and poor public image?

SilverQuilavaFebruary 10, 2011

I think everyone can agree that Guitar Hero really sucked, and I'm glad that era is over. Here's to hoping we'll never hear from that genre ever again.

PlugabugzFebruary 10, 2011

I've been *waiting* years for a Beyonce's Bootylicious Dance Mix and now it will likely never come.


Thanks Activision.

As long as there's an eventual Ouendan 3 or EBA 2, the rest of the music game genre can fade from existence for all I care.

...oh snap, DDR can stay though.

MaryJaneFebruary 10, 2011

So fake dancing is better than fake instrument playing?

What I don't understand why they thought games that could pretty much depend solely on DLC needed yearly updates? They should make (should've made) one end all be all product at like 3 or 4 and just do (have done) DLC until the next gen consoles released. Hopefully that's what the new Harmonix, the games are entertaining, but their entertainment is based on the music and DLC allows you to choose which music you want, and saves both consumer and producers money.

Chozo GhostFebruary 10, 2011

Quote from: Kytim89

if Call of Duty is the new Guitar Hero and we had better prepare for a new iteration of that series every year until it finally gets stale.

But we DO see a new iteration of it every year, and it IS stale. They are working on Modern Warfare 3 even as we speak and that is set to come out at the end of this year. So it goes like this:

2007 - Modern Warfare 1
2008 - World at War
2009 - Modern Warfare 2
2010 - Black Ops
2011 - Modern Warfare 3
2012 - Black Ops 2 (probably)

So there is a new COD game every year just like how there was a new Guitar Hero game every year. The only way it could get worse is if they started releasing a new COD every 6 months. Basically they are milking it dry and ruining the franchise just like they did with Guitar Hero. Like I said in the other thread what I think they need to do is stop making sequels and start testing the waters in different eras besides WW2 and modern ****. We should have COD: Spanish-American war or COD: Crusades, or whatever...

But Activision won't do that. They are just rehashing what has made profit for them in the past and they are either too stupid or too afraid to try something different. They are like some idiotic AI controlled NPC in a game that is stuck walking into a wall and is too stupid to turn left or right to find the doorway to where they need to go.

Quote from: broodwars

Well, I can't say I'll miss the flood of overpriced plastic instruments in stores every Christmas year-round.  I do feel sorry for the folks that Activsion are now laying off when it was incompetence at the highest level of Activsion that caused the market to become oversaturated and self-destruct.  I can only hope that Call of Duty will meet a similar fate.  While I enjoy my fair share of First Person Shooters, that genre's been long-overdue for a general culling with everything copying CoD 4's multiplayer and very few games advancing the genre.

I agree. I'm sick of the modern warfare crap. The franchise started out in WW2, but COD4 was revolutionary as it broke out of that and moved to modern warfare, but that was 4 years ago and every game since then except WaW (which was way back in 2008) has been set in modern times (black ops is in the cold war so its somewhere in between). So while COD4 was something fresh and new in 2007, this is no longer the case. Now its at the point where if the franchise returned back to its WW2 roots it would actually be a refreshing change. But it really should move to some other war period of human history. Its not like WW2 was the first war mankind ever fought, and I for one am sick of all the modern weaponry. To me its all the same, all automatic bang bang explosions and rapid firing machine guns and helicopters and planes. ENOUGH! Why can't we have a COD where we fight with swords and bows and arrows for a change? If this would happen it would be even more revolutionary to the franchise than COD4 was and would keep it fresh and interesting. I'm sure it would sell millions as long as Treyarch made it and it bore the COD name. I'd also look forward to the Zombie modes Treyarch would create for a Medieval COD game. That would be cool.

TJ SpykeFebruary 10, 2011

Quote from: SilverQuilava

I think everyone can agree that Guitar Hero really sucked, and I'm glad that era is over. Here's to hoping we'll never hear from that genre ever again.

I wouldn't, and I know many others who wouldn't. The only one I have played is Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, but it was a great game.

broodwarsFebruary 10, 2011

Quote from: Chozo

I agree. I'm sick of the modern warfare crap. The franchise started out in WW2, but COD4 was revolutionary as it broke out of that and moved to modern warfare, but that was 4 years ago and every game since then except WaW (which was way back in 2008) has been set in modern times (black ops is in the cold war so its somewhere in between). So while COD4 was something fresh and new in 2007, this is no longer the case. Now its at the point where if the franchise returned back to its WW2 roots it would actually be a refreshing change. But it really should move to some other war period of human history. Its not like WW2 was the first war mankind ever fought, and I for one am sick of all the modern weaponry. To me its all the same, all automatic bang bang explosions and rapid firing machine guns and helicopters and planes. ENOUGH! Why can't we have a COD where we fight with swords and bows and arrows for a change? If this would happen it would be even more revolutionary to the franchise than COD4 was and would keep it fresh and interesting. I'm sure it would sell millions as long as Treyarch made it and it bore the COD name. I'd also look forward to the Zombie modes Treyarch would create for a Medieval COD game. That would be cool.


I actually don't mind the modern setting so much as the actual game mechanics have not changed.  Boot up any given new First Person Shooter these days and enter a given multiplayer game mode, and you'll almost always see the same thing: a standard deathmatch-type experience where players run around until someone runs into them and someone dies, or a player from the other side of the map snipes someone else.  Players die and respawn, the match ends, experience is dolled out for kills, players who are already good acquire perks and whatnot through level-ups that make them even harder to kill, words are exchanged via microphone, wash, rinse, repeat.  Can you seriously tell me there's really a distinction between the multiplayer-centric experience in something like Crysis, the Conduit, Medal of Honor; Battlefield; Call of Duty; etc.?  It's the same experience with the same standard modes and frequently the same weapons and powers, with minor differences between them.  It's lazy, repetitive, and boring.

At this point, the only way that these games distinguish themselves these days is in the singleplayer mode, and often in this genre that experience is marginalized in comparison to the multiplayer.  If First Person Shooters aren't going to try to do anything more than copy a set format (even Call of Duty), I'd rather they weren't made.

Ian SaneFebruary 10, 2011

Quote:

So fake dancing is better than fake instrument playing?


How do you fake dance?  :D  If music is playing and your moving to it isn't that dancing?

The "only want IP we can exploit" strategy has failed and good riddance.  Activision was relying on Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk, Call of Duty and Blizzard.  Now they only have Call of Duty and Blizzard.  Why would any sane or intelligent person think that milking the shit out of small handful of franchises was going to last forever?

Call of Duty is toast.  Maybe not this year or next year but at some point no one is going to care.  Aside from sports games like Madden I cannot think of any franchise that gets annual releases and remains relevent.  Eventually the whole thing just gets stale.  You know why something like Zelda, despite being over 20 years old, is still popular?  They don't release a new game each year.  Every time a new game is released it attracts attention due to the scarcity of it.  And there is enough time between each release that the developer can try some new things and not rush.  Most important of all the distance between releases delays the law of diminishing returns.  Eventually you will run out of ideas.  Eventually something will became stale.  Let's say you have five games worth of original ideas.  You can release those five games in five years and then have nothing or you can put some space between releases a get 15 years out of the same amount of content.  And in that period of time you might come up with other new ideas or be able to create a new IP to replace the old one.

The ironic thing is that Activision owns Blizzard and Blizzard knows this strategy better than anyone.  StarCraft II was released TWELVE YEARS after the first game.  They have only three franchises but they space them out enough that each game is a major event and enough time is put in to assure that they deliver big time with every game.  Activision, as they are right now, are doomed.  Blizzard, as they are now and assuming they don't get dragged down by Activision, has a system in place that can last for decades.

TJ SpykeFebruary 10, 2011

I wonder if Blizzard get away with it because they make over $150 million a month just from WOW, almost pure profit. Most companies can not afford to release about 1 game a year.

EnnerFebruary 10, 2011

Quote from: broodwars

...
Can you seriously tell me there's really a distinction between the multiplayer-centric experience in something like Crysis, the Conduit, Medal of Honor; Battlefield; Call of Duty; etc.?  It's the same experience with the same standard modes and frequently the same weapons and powers, with minor differences between them.  It's lazy, repetitive, and boring.

At this point, the only way that these games distinguish themselves these days is in the singleplayer mode, and often in this genre that experience is marginalized in comparison to the multiplayer.  If First Person Shooters aren't going to try to do anything more than copy a set format (even Call of Duty), I'd rather they weren't made.

The Conduit and the Resistance games have some wacky weapons akin to the days of PC arena shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament and console shooters like Turok and Perfect Dark. The first Crysis' Crysis Wars and the Battlefield games have big levels where vehicles come in to play. What has been shown so far of Crysis 2's multiplayer disappoints me so far as the only significant differentiator are the Nanosuit powers that are quite wacky relative to Call of Duty. Battlefield Bad Company 2 is on a much smaller scale than previous Battlefield games and suffers somewhat because of it. You can certainly lump Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Blacklight: Tango Down, Breach, Modern Combat Domination, and some other games in to the same bag. Killzone 2 and 3 I think bare special mention because I think how you can seamlessly shift between different game modes on a single map is really cool.

There are differences between all that shooting and I think a lot of times they are major differences to the same "point at dude and pull trigger". I think the real problem is that the genre is too popular and thus there are too many games. That makes it hard to see if and how individual games are special and bring something new or fresh.
Then again, I really like all sorts of "point at target and shoot" games so maybe I'm being an apologist for the genre's current shortcomings.

Ian SaneFebruary 10, 2011

Quote:

  I wonder if Blizzard get away with it because they make over $150 million a month just from WOW, almost pure profit. Most companies can not afford to release about 1 game a year.


Yeah but Blizzard was using the same model before they released WoW.

Nonetheless the point remains: when has milking annual releases of any non-sports related videogame series paid off?  It always tanks the brand.

TJ SpykeFebruary 10, 2011

Mario Party had 7 consecutive years of releases and each one sold really well, it was Nintendo who decided to take a break after #8.

Just for the record, Activision's profit actually went up over 10% in the last reporting period.

So this is generally what is known as a dick move.

MaryJaneFebruary 10, 2011

I was going to reference Madden and the other sports game in response, but Mario Party is also a good example.

And I agree that the weapons are what separate FPSs as they should. I'm hoping Nintendo makes another entry in the Metroid Prime: Hunters series for the 3DS.

Edit: @Shaymin
I saw on CNN that their stocks just dropped 10%...

Chozo GhostFebruary 10, 2011

Quote from: broodwars

Can you seriously tell me there's really a distinction between the multiplayer-centric experience in something like Crysis, the Conduit, Medal of Honor; Battlefield; Call of Duty; etc.?  It's the same experience with the same standard modes and frequently the same weapons and powers, with minor differences between them.  It's lazy, repetitive, and boring.

All those games are based on modern era warfare.  The weapons are all basically the same because they are based on real world weaponry. Weapons like the M16 and AK-47 are going to be used and rehashed over and over in any game involving modern combat because in the real world these are the weapons often used so it would be unrealistic not to include them. There is only so much variation you can do when you are trying to replicate a certain real life scenario in a video game. Unless you tossed in ray guns or something weird and outlandish you aren't going to be doing anything different from the competitiors, and if you do toss those things in then you are breaking realism so you can't win either way.

So again I have to say the way out of that is to change the scenario. Since everyone is doing modern era warfare, do medieval warfare. The weapons would consist of axes, swords, bows, maces, etc. and would stand out for that reason alone. What other medieval FPS online MP game is there? None that I can think of. There are literally dozens if not more modern and WW2 FPS games though. Those two eras have been beaten beyond death, but yet there's not one American Civil War FPS game out there. We need a change. You can't do much different in a modern warfare game that hasn't already been done before. I'm sure Modern Warfare 3 is going to have better graphics and an emblem editor probably maybe a few new perks or killstreaks. But is it going to be revolutionary? I can't see how when its set in the same era as the last dozen or so games in the genre.

Quote from: Ian

Call of Duty is toast.  Maybe not this year or next year but at some point no one is going to care.

People said the same thing about Pokemon circa 1998 or so.

In all honesty I'm not sure if its going to be toast or not. Black Ops broke records and beat every other COD game in terms of sales on its launch, so the franchise doesn't seem to be on a downward trajectory at the moment. Of course it could change, but I think its getting at the point where its been around so long and has such a dedicated following that at this point Activision would have to screw it up really epically bad for it to fail.

Ian SaneFebruary 10, 2011

Quote:

People said the same thing about Pokemon circa 1998 or so.


But Nintendo doesn't release a brand new Pokemon game every single year.  Yes there are spin-offs but Mario has that too.  For REAL Pokemon games there are years between each release.  If Activision was in charge Pokemon Gold/Silver would have been released a year after Red/Blue and the trend would have continued.  Do you think Pokemon would have remained as popular if the five generations of Pokemon had been released bang-bang-bang in five years?  That is what Activision does with Call of Duty.

Now that we can claim the music game fad as done, one thing that was nice about it is that it introduced a lot of kids to music they had never heard before.  Most kids, and it was this way when I was a kid too, are familiar with the last six months of music and that is it.  They just have this incredibly narrow view of, well, everything.  I think a big reason a lot of really shitty pop music aimed at pre-teens is successful is because the audience is ignorant of music history.  But Guitar Hero and Rock Band covered rock music from a very wide era.  As a result kids who bought the game to play the current music became familiar with a lot of older stuff they otherwise wouldn't hear.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusFebruary 10, 2011

Pokemon is a rather unique beast. Pokemon is not just a single game that has been hashed over and over, but a multi-leveled-media machine. There's your main line games on the portables, cards, spin off party/camera/pet games, colosseum, cartoons, merchandising, music, costumes, competitions and more. You don't have to be a gamer to enjoy Pokemon. If all you enjoy about it are the cartoons, that is ok. They would like you to buy some of their other stuff, but there is no hard sell. If you leave and come back, it will always welcome you back no matter the level of participation, even if you just like Pikachu.

Madden and it's ilk are also one offs. Due to the lack of any direct competition due to licensing and being part of another machine it can get away with what are essentially roster updates year after year as long as they never, ever offer DLC with roster updates. Also everyone "knows" there is another out next year and are trained via perverse peer pressure to get the current game so they can play with their friends. Along with them cutting server access early, "Project $10", makes it a very strong are you in or your out situation, coupled with the absurd fixation on American football that cumulates into the Super Bowl, makes Madden work. EA has a total monopoly on "Sports" and this is reflected in the yearly releases.

COD, is well, COD. That's it, well that and a lot of USAUSAUSAUSA!. There is no supporting infrastructure, no viable long term plan(Make more COD not now, but yesterday), no super advantage they can use other than this is COD. Activision doesn't have the monopoly on war or FPS. They hit gold with Modern Warfare after only digging up silver for years and has proceeded to demolish the mountain in order to quickly fill in quarterly reports. Expensive player base splitting map packs, bad server support, poor QA, glacial response to complaints, developer real-politics, all cheap and profitable in the short run, draw down on good will that got banked with MW1. One bad game they can't hide under explosions and it's done. They have already gutted their own talent when they put their hand up to say excuse me, "I need to go to the bathroom" with their original dream team, so no doubt they have already started grinding down who ever is left.

the asylumFebruary 10, 2011

I know I'm gonna catch a lot of flak for this, but it has to be said.

"And nothing of value was lost."

ShyGuyFebruary 10, 2011

I agree with the mental institution. Music games could have been something as big as the blue ocean Wii, but they got ran into the ground harder than a kite made out of lead.

EnnerFebruary 10, 2011


At least there are other music games out there. I think there is even some Unreal Engine 3 dancing MMO game.

Quote from: Chozo

...
So again I have to say the way out of that is to change the scenario. Since everyone is doing modern era warfare, do medieval warfare. The weapons would consist of axes, swords, bows, maces, etc. and would stand out for that reason alone. What other medieval FPS online MP game is there? None that I can think of.
...

There was that Dark Messiah of Might and Magic game for the PC and X360. It didn't review well.
There's a third-person game that is set in a medieval fantasy setting called Hunted The Demon's Forge that sort of fits the bill. http://www.giantbomb.com/hunt-the-hunted-in-hunted-the-demons-forge/17-3783/
It looks kind of neat.



Mop it upFebruary 10, 2011

This is what happens when companies don't understand their audience. I don't think this spells the end for the music/rhythm genre, someone will come along and analyze what went wrong here and revive the genre.

Ian SaneFebruary 11, 2011

I think the rhythm genre is clearly going to continue to exist, it just won't be the big mainstream cash cow anymore.  It existed before with DDR but it was more of a hardcore genre.  We've been playing these games since Parappa the Rapper on the Playstation.  It's an established videogame genre that will continue to have an audience.  It just won't be a huge audience.  It's like how they still make shmups but that has clearly become an enthusiast's genre.

ArbokFebruary 11, 2011

I think everyone predicted the music genre was on the way out with recent sales...

...but I don't know about anyone else, but I'm shocked it happened so quickly. If I had to estimate the situation, I would have guessed it would have limped its way into the next console generation before finally falling off.

BlackNMild2k1February 11, 2011

At this point, I think it's waiting for the next console generation before getting a revival. And hopefully they do it right next time around.

One major release and then song packs and DLC updates till they have enough innovation for another new major release several years later.

Mop it upFebruary 11, 2011

Quote from: Arbok

...but I don't know about anyone else, but I'm shocked it happened so quickly. If I had to estimate the situation, I would have guessed it would have limped its way into the next console generation before finally falling off.

I didn't think it would happen just yet either. Last I remember hearing, the newest versions of Guitar Hero and Rock Band were still selling well, and even DJ Hero 2 was performing better than the first entry.

Chozo GhostFebruary 12, 2011

Just want to put it out there that Guitar Hero isn't the only music gaming franchise in existence. There is also every possibility that new franchises will spring up in the future. So I don't think its right to declare the genre dead just yet. If anything, now that Guitar Hero is gone the market is a little less saturated and those that remain may do better. Just like how Mammals took over when the Dinosaurs died out.

KDR_11kFebruary 12, 2011

Quote from: broodwars

Boot up any given new First Person Shooter these days and enter a given multiplayer game mode, and you'll almost always see the same thing: a standard deathmatch-type experience where players run around until someone runs into them and someone dies, or a player from the other side of the map snipes someone else.  Players die and respawn, the match ends, experience is dolled out for kills, players who are already good acquire perks and whatnot through level-ups that make them even harder to kill, words are exchanged via microphone, wash, rinse, repeat.  Can you seriously tell me there's really a distinction between the multiplayer-centric experience in something like Crysis, the Conduit, Medal of Honor; Battlefield; Call of Duty; etc.?  It's the same experience with the same standard modes and frequently the same weapons and powers, with minor differences between them.  It's lazy, repetitive, and boring.

Yep, my main MP game right now is Monday Night Combat because it doesn't do crap like that.

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