Guitar Hero business unit disbanded, True Crime: Hong Kong canceled, Tony Hawk on hold

Once-mighty rhythm franchise's latest installment canned; DJ Hero discontinued; United Front's open-world game also given the chop; no new skateboarding game in 2011; Activision's global workforce being culled by 7%.

609 Comments

Just under two years ago, the Guitar Hero franchise was riding high, having racked up over $2 billion in sales from its various installments. However, the intervening period has seen its fortunes fall, with sales plummeting to the point that the latest installment in the series, Warriors of Rock, sold fewer than 100,000 copies during its debut month last September.

Guitar Hero won't rock in 2011. But will it ever again?
Guitar Hero won't rock in 2011. But will it ever again?

As a result of the franchise's weakening, Activision shut down original publisher RedOctane and hit former developer Neversoft with layoffs. Today, though, comes word that the series may have paid the ultimate price. According to the company's latest financial report, the 2011 installment of the game has been axed, and "the company will disband Activision Publishing's Guitar Hero business unit." The company also confirmed that the DJ Hero series is being discontinued.

The company did not comment on whether there will be another Guitar Hero game sometime down the line. However, in a conference call with analysts after the earnings release's publication, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said that, with licensing fees and music royalties, the company just couldn't make profitable Guitar Hero or DJ Hero games at current sales levels. He also said that the company would continue to fund downloadable content for the series as a way of keeping the current customer base engaged.

[UPDATE 3] Or did he? Now according to a FAQ on the official DJ Hero website, all Guitar Hero and DJ Hero DLC will cease after February's end. "We will release the previously announced DLC track and mix packs for February, but--unfortunately--we will not be able to release new DLC packs beyond what we already have," read the FAQ.

Another series headed for the chopping block is True Crime, a move that comes before the next game in the series, True Crime: Hong Kong, had even hit the market. The open-world crime game had been set to be released for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 later this year. It had been in development at Canadian studio United Front Games (ModNation Racers).

In the same conference call, Hirshberg said that the decision to cancel True Crime was due to the fact Activision feels only top-tier games can be competitive in today's market--and that True Crime wasn't a top-tier game. "To be blunt, it just wasn't going to be good enough," he said.

[UPDATE] Hirshberg also shed some light on the Tony Hawk series during the call, saying there will be "no new music or skateboarding games in 2011." Last December, Activision said it was sticking by the series even though its last installment, Tony Hawk: Shred, sold under 3,000 units during its first week on sale.

[UPDATE 2] When asked by an analyst what the impact of the Guitar Hero cancellation and other decisions would have on headcount, Hirshberg said that 7 percent of Activision's workforce would be cut as a result. CFO and COO Thomas Tippl expanded on that, putting the layoff figure at around 500 people.

For more on what might be the final Guitar Hero game, check out GameSpot's review of Warriors of Rock.

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Avatar image for AmateurReviews
AmateurReviews

True crime looked top notch in the screen shots too bad its not getting made. I dont really care about Guitar Hero unless they make Guitar Hero Nirvana and Tony Hawk is over IMO. EA Skate overshadowed it.

Avatar image for muffin8or
muffin8or

True crime is a top game. The scene they showed looked realyl good :(

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gamingfrendly

activesion you can go and burn in hell fire

Avatar image for wedran123
wedran123

Well Atleast we have APB reloaded untill this gets bought....or untill activision crumbles and EA takes a dump on its face....No really....The only "People" buying Call of duty are 12 year olds thinking they are pro if they use the noob tubes all the time....AND IM CERTAINLY HOPING GUITAR HERO NEVER ROCKS AGAIN!

Avatar image for tom80697
tom80697

I was waiting for another TRUE CRIME for long and activision ruined it... I wish EA or another game company will buy true crime,honestly call of duty suck's who cares play black ops??? killzone 3,crysis2,halo reach and resistance are much better than call of duty

Avatar image for thechad123
thechad123

Wtf. Finally I get to see an open world set in an exotic land, the lighting, shops... they look so accurately Asian. And the hardwork the makers put in...just thrown out because this Hirshberg jerk doesn't approve? I'm dissapointed by this terrible company

Avatar image for tinkymon
tinkymon

i was really looking foward 2 geting my hands on a new true crimes game and this 1 was looking promising, i dont really think that activision really know what the gamers really want ? i mean really !

Avatar image for kalgert123
kalgert123

Well..This is rather disapointing,i was hoping to get some good gaming time from TC: hong kong and tony hawks aswell..damn you activision...just damn you...

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skills25

Why did cod sell so well?

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TheBlackSpeed

He says he canceled True Crime because it wasn't top-tier. Tell me this, why is "Dance Hero" a possible title? I don't get Activision. At all..

Avatar image for PS3gamer890
PS3gamer890

i am mad that true crime hong kong got cancelled i was looking forward to that game

Avatar image for sonic-boom
sonic-boom

It's a shame True Crime has been canceled.. the most appealing piece about that game was its locale as it would've been very refreshing.

Avatar image for Dima_06
Dima_06

Guitar Hero, True Crime: Hong Kong and the Tony Hawk series R.I.P....gamers around the world will all miss you. Screw Activision and their myopic decisions.

Avatar image for Dima_06
Dima_06

Why do games/titles get cancelled, it's because developers are afraid to take chances!! Just look at the game called "Stacked", it probably won't sell too many copies due to the fact that it's download only and it's a niche game; however, this shouldn't stop video-game designers, developers and companies from releasing quality titles year after year. Activision made a terrible mistake axing Guitar Hero and handcuffing TC: Hong Kong!

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Dima_06

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for ELICBELICBOOM
ELICBELICBOOM

Damn I can't believe this! I waiting and waiting and they just cancelling it damn I will never buy from Activision again I really like True Crime I played LA&NY and I waiting a lot of time for Hong Kong............. :( and after all the hard work like I saw in the trailers they cancelling it........shame! what about all the fans.

Avatar image for lordofallpies
lordofallpies

Classic Activision, they finally start making a decent looking game and then they cancel it just because it isn't part of series of games that hardly have any differences.

Avatar image for turgzz
turgzz

Damn! I was really looking forward to True Crime Hong Kong... I loved the last two ones! I wouldn't compare them to GTA, I think those games are different in their own way TC will be missed :/

Avatar image for cr3zy
cr3zy

Activision... I wonder that I'm still so shocked about this.

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FOBlO

bastards cancelled True Crime Hong Kong, I been tracking that game for over a year. They're just going to stick with call of duty.

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OreoPoptart

hmmm I finally know why I stop buy games from Activision BECAUSE THEY BLOWS

Avatar image for EvalCo
EvalCo

Now i realy hate Activision

Avatar image for Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

i had to tell someone (just a few minutes ago) who was looking forward to True Crime Hong Kong that it was canceled........he was very bummed out about it. as am i.

Avatar image for coviechieif62
coviechieif62

i am not a fan of activision now, and i think the reason for the failure of guitar hero is that they released a new freaking game ever 6 weeks. It's called pacing! It's probably not even neversoft's fault but activision for pushing deadlines, and now they lay them off...just stupid

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laplace985

It's too bad, the first true crime was a really fun game. I would love to see rockstar buy that franchise and remake the game.

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tonytonez

I was planning on heading to gamestop this weekend to reserve a copy of True Crime, I loved the first one...especially searching random people :(

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campbell153

See Activision... you fail!

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gashoe13

Honestly, I can't say I didn't see this coming. Activision's Guitar Hero and DJ Hero were certainly good, but they didn't have that good of track lists. True Crime kinda stank the whole way through, and Tony Hawk has long bailed. Poor Activision...

Avatar image for fLaMbOaStiN
fLaMbOaStiN

I'am not a fan of either the music genre or true crimes: hong kong (didn't think the game looked good at all.) But i do agree Activision went around the music all the wrong way.. They could've milked the genre for years by releasing 2 games a year (similar to what they do with CoD) with solid songs and DLC support.. Honestly, i wouldn't be surprised if it was Koticks plan the whole time to drive the music genre into the ground. As for Tony Hawk.. That franchise has come and gone, with superior products like SKATE now on the market no one really needs tony hawk (tony hawk isn't really even that famous anymore) and its gimmicky gameplay.

Avatar image for DDR_Midian
DDR_Midian

I'm hoping this means Rock Band can survive. I do prefer it to GH, but all rivalry aside, with one stepping down there's more chance for the other to flourish. There shoud be room for at least one rhythm game on the market and RB is getting pretty innovative with it's new pro mode.

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dw9872

In a related story, Activision is now changing its name to "The Call of Duty Company."

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fredyellowone

Wait.... Not Blizzard!

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fredyellowone

Good news. Activision deserve to die.

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65mustangryan

Man, that's weak. I thought TC looked good.

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emperiox

True Crime just isn't good enough? ARE YOU NUTS!?!? You really wonder why people pirate your games?

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jamesm7786

Didn't I just read a story about how there is a slew of Hollywood talent being hired for some new (and in my opinion, terrible) Spyro game? Oh yeah, I did...

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Zapboy30

lol think of all the sales rock band will get

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KrazzyDJ

With Activision flooding so many games of a franchise in the market, how can each of them be expected to make money. If this policy of Activision continues, soon the only franchise that they'll be left with will be the Call of Duty series. Also, I believe I had seen a video of True Crime in action on Today On The Spot and I thought it looked pretty good enough - in fact good enough to be considered finished and ready for release. Wonder why that got canceled !!!

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fpShorty

I was seriously going to get True Crime: HK day one. Now, I am sad.

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amari24

Gosh... I was hoping to get my hands on True Crimes.

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martotobg

If i see Hirshberg ill woop his bottom :@ how could he say such thing about TRUE CRIME the most epic game seen after GTA IV and Call of Duty. That game is made to be an equal to GTA IV + some parkour game + GODDAMN MMA, alwso the main charecter is a friggin crazy chinese cop that does kung fu. And now u should understand why i want to woop his bottom

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Big_To

I hope Activision puts the True Crim ip on sale and someone picks it up, it looked like it had potential.

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GunBladeHero

It´s Activision´s fault for releasing a Guitar Hero game every 3 months or so, the market grows tired this way. As for True Crime, it is really a shame, I was really looking forward to it.

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wexorian

next step is kicking aspyr i think lol :D

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smbius

Next stop on the chopping block? Call of Duty

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charlieboomboom

yay no more song-spamming at xboxlive

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super600

This is why the game franchises Activision publishes will never succeed in the long term. That's true, but look at what Activision is known for in the informed gaming community. There know as an insanely greedy company that loves to maximize profits in any way they can if it even involves releasing multiple games in the same franchise in one year. This results in them releasing games with major problems at times and the games they create in these franchises don't try anything risky to make them more fun. They also try to find other ways to maximize profits by creating expensive DLC(at times) and using subscription models like that new COD subscription. Once the company destroys a franchise they find another popular franchise even if it's a tv show game franchise(like Family Guy) to take it's place. This results in them never learning their lesson from milking games because every single time they create a new popular franchise their plate of bad deeds(from previous franchises they handled)is cleaned which results in people not looking at how Activision handled the games they produced in the past. This gives Activision the green light to produce and milk insanely popular franchises with no reprocussions

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Avatar image for DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

They should have scaled back GH and not just canned it. How can they cancel True Crime: Hong Kong (It was almost finished right?) yet keep Tony Hawk but I'm sure they'll do something innovative with that

Avatar image for Gandoclaus
Gandoclaus

No one should be surprised, that's what happens when you milk the bejeesus out of one idea with two dozen crappy games. The rock band guys have the right idea.