A new Guitar Hero game was in development at Activision subsidiary Vicarious Visions until early 2011, when the publisher killed the project mid-development, a source has told Kotaku. The game was going to be different than 2010's most recent entry Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, in that it was planned as a return-to-roots guitar-focused game. No compatibility for drums, bass, microphones, or any other peripherals was planned. It was all about the guitar.
The plastic guitar for Guitar Hero 7, or whatever it was to be called, was going to have the classic Guitar Hero buttons on the neck (as well as a new button) and six actual strings where the strum bar was in past games.
Prototypes of the guitar were made, the source said, but they did not meet performance expectations and proved too expensive to produce.
"The strings were unresponsive and loose, and the guitars cost a fortune to make," the source said. "No one could figure out a way to make it so your average Joe could buy one."
The source said development on the project began well, with an early demo for the game proving to be ambitious and compelling. Every time music changed in a significant way in a song, the venue's aesthetics would change, too. This was one of the core ideas for the new game. However, the project went south quickly when real development actually began, the source said.
Vicarious Visions elected to build Guitar Hero 7 from the ground up, deciding to forgo the series' familiar art style and characters for an entirely new approach. Additionally, the studio's "big ambitions" across the board proved too far-reaching to follow through on. What's more, the soundtrack was not up to snuff.
"When the songs started coming in, a great sense of dread came about everyone with an active brain," the source said. "The game had all of the worst hits from the 1990's. They realized that, with our lack of budget and time, they couldn't get quality music so they bought bargain basement music like 'Closing time' and 'Sex and Candy.' There were some songs in there that had been used at least three times in the Guitar Hero franchises before."
Guitar Hero 7 saw its last days when Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg visited the studio. He saw the progress that had been made and after he returned from his trip, development was halted and members of the development team were let go.
The most recent entry in the Guitar Hero series was 2010's Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Activision officially put the franchise in hiatus in 2011, making clear that Guitar Hero was not dead, but rather taking time to reinvent itself before returning.