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Activision 'reinventing' Guitar Hero

CEO Bobby Kotick confirms new studio working on prototypes, acknowledges misstep with the "passion project" DJ Hero.


Activision has started getting the band back together. In an interview with Forbes, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick confirmed that the publisher is using a new studio to reinvent the Guitar Hero franchise.

When Guitar Hero does return, expect it to look a bit different.
When Guitar Hero does return, expect it to look a bit different.

When asked how the publisher plans to spark innovation in the series, Kotick explained, "[It's] a very rigorous process, but we spend a lot of time talking to different customers in different customer ranges and different demographics, different audience interests, and that process takes a little bit of time. Then we also let the studio--there's a studio that's now assigned to this project--we let them explore technology pathways, and so they'll do a variety of different prototypes."

Some of the requests Activision's customers make may be easier to fulfill than others. Elsewhere in the interview, Kotick explained that the most frequently made request for the Guitar Hero franchise was to include the music of Led Zeppelin.

"But we couldn't get Led Zeppelin to consent to give us the rights," Kotick said. "And there were a lot of instances of that, a whole host of artists who just didn't want to give rights to Guitar Hero. And it was hard to get around that. And then there were other things...we put things out there that were not ready for primetime and that today actually would resonate very well with audiences."

One of the things Activision put out that Kotick acknowledged was a mistake was the "passion project" DJ Hero. He explained that the company had overestimated the number of people who would be interested in re-creating a DJ experience in the context of a game.

"[We] created this critically acclaimed, highly rated game," Kotick said, "and these are the hardest failures, when you put your heart and soul into it and you deliver an extraordinarily well-received game, and nobody shows up to buy it. So that's what happened with DJ Hero. At the same time, we were so excited about going down this new direction with DJ Hero. I think we abandoned a bit of the innovation that was required in the Guitar Hero franchise."

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