Activision gave the wrong impression when it announced in February that it would disband the Guitar Hero development team and stop working on a Guitar Hero game for 2011.
Most of the press (myself included) assumed that this meant Guitar Hero was finished, but now Activision is clearing the air. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Activision's head of developer relations, Dan Winters, clarified that the series is on "hiatus."
"We're releasing products out of the vault -- we'll continue to sustain the channel, the brand won't go away. We're just not making a new one for next year, that's all," Winters said.
Guitar Hero certainly needs the break. Over the last few years, Guitar Hero and Rock Band oversaturated the market, with more than a dozen games, band-specific sequels and spin-offs launched between 2008 and 2010.
But time alone won't heal Guitar Hero's wounds. The fake plastic instrument genre has stagnated. There are no more peripherals to add (keyboards, the final but non-essential element of rock music, came alongside Rock Band 3 last year). Activision will have to rethink the entire concept if it wants to rekindle interest, and I'm not convinced that consumers who previously invested in the hardware will be willing to do it again.
Still, I believe Winters when he says the brand isn't going away. Guitar Hero is a well-known property, and the name could easily be applied to any form of music gaming, even if it doesn't involve guitar-shaped controllers with colorful buttons on the end. As games like Tap Tap Revenge and Dance Central prove, the marriage of video games and music hasn't gone stale.
This story, "Rock On: Guitar Hero Not Dead Yet" was originally published by Technologizer.