Activision's 2009 catalog of rhythm game releases was beyond robust, including Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, DJ Hero, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits, and Band Hero. Despite that retail onslaught, the publisher's sell-through of rhythm game titles was down 35 percent.
The lesson there has not been lost, as Activision Publishing president Michael Griffith today said the publisher would be offering a drastically reduced lineup of music games in 2010. In a post-earnings conference call with analysts, Griffith said Activision's strategy would be to focus on fewer releases that service a broader audience.
Specifically, Griffith said Activision will only have fewer than 10 Guitar Hero SKUs (stock-keeping units; a game with two different bundles on three platforms each would be six SKUs). Last year, the company released 25 SKUs in the series. On top of that, none of this year's Activision music games will appear on the PlayStation 2.
Griffith said this year's crop of games will be centered on two major releases: DJ Hero 2 and an as-yet-unspecified Guitar Hero game. Both of them will arrive in the back half of the year.
The executive added there would be no high-priced Band Hero game this year, stating that the music gaming market is moving away from hardware bundles and toward stand-alone software sales. As a result, he expects the genre's sales to decline even further.
Elsewhere in the call, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said the publisher would be bringing Guitar Hero to the iPhone, as part of the company's ongoing plan to "selectively expand brands" to Apple's handheld. Last year, Activision made a splash on the App Store with Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies.