Activision: Guitar Hero has lost some 'mass appeal' - Report

Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg says music games aren't what they once were; has "a ton of respect" for Harmonix, but won't comment on possible purchase of Boston-based studio.

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Earlier this week, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg defended the poor sales of Tony Hawk Shred, but noted how Mr. 900's cultural relevance is still large. On Wednesday, Hirshberg offered a similar sentiment on another Activision property: Guitar Hero.

Hirshberg told IndustryGamers in a recent interview that Guitar Hero doesn't have the mass appeal it once had. He also defended the property, saying there's still great opportunity within the genre, so long as the product is innovative.

Warriors of Rock innovated with huge pork deities; the next will have to do better.
Warriors of Rock innovated with huge pork deities; the next will have to do better.

"It's no secret that not just Guitar Hero, but also Rock Band, and the music category in general, do not have the same mass appeal today that they did a few years ago," he said. "That said, I think that we would be foolish to not try and build on the strength of the Guitar Hero brand, because it's a pretty strong brand with great recognition and great likeability, and there’s a lot to work with there. I think the road to rejuvenating that category goes through innovation."

Hirshberg also spoke of Harmonix, the developer of the original Guitar Hero, whose future is now uncertain following Vicacom's recent decision to offload the Boston-area developer. Activision isn't saying if it's the company to pick it up. That move would bring both major music game franchises under the same hood.

"I can't comment on that, for obvious reasons. I can tell you I've got a ton of respect for Harmonix, and I agree with everything you've said about them," he said. "They're a hell of a developer and very innovative, and I've got nothing but love for them."

The most recent entry in the Guitar Hero series, Warriors of Rock, was released in late September. It offered a new Quest mode narrated by Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and was favorably reviewed by critics but sold under 100,000 units in its first month of availability. For more on that title, check out GameSpot's review of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

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