Activision has recently provided some news that may prove to be shocking to some, but unsurprising to others: Guitar Hero is to be canceled. Causing the loss of hundreds of jobs, the Guitar Hero franchise is to stop production altogether after six games, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock being the latest release. The spinoff series DJ Hero was also cancelled after DJ Hero 2. There is no doubt that many who love the game will be shocked at the news, but very few would find it surprising due to the fact that Guitar Hero and the rhythm game world has overrun the industry and finally tired out.
“The games have indeed over-saturated the market,” comments Rollins student Darian Tucker ’11. “They kept on throwing game after game of basically the same thing, what with Aerosmith, Van Halen and Metallica and all that.” He was not alone in thinking that the constant releasing of similar games was killing the interest in music simulators and therefore the franchise itself. If games such as Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution start growing old and die, we can now easily predict how and why.
Indeed, the collapse of this popular game series was inevitable. I was never personally a fan of the game, and thought of it as rather silly. Speaking from experience, going out to practice and perform one’s own music seems much more of an exciting challenge. However, even in the context of a party game, Guitar Hero was still not all that appealing to me, due to the fact that the songs included in the series tended to sometimes be too popular for me to enjoy. This may sound strange, but I preferred more challenging, less popular sorts of songs that are higher level in thought than the overplayed classic rock song or simple pop-rock/hard rock tune. Granted, this would mean that it would not catch on as well in the market to begin with. I, personally, would have appreciated a bit of Fates Warning or Scar Symmetry.
Guitar Hero insisted on showcasing the more mainstream bands, which in my opinion, turned away its audience due to the fact that they have heard the same songs a billion times before, ad nauseum. Metallica is fine by me but I will admit, I do not listen to them all that much nowadays, I barely touch Van Halen anymore, and I do not really care about Aerosmith altogether. What is there to be gained from all these games (consecutively, no less) except swelling up their name and burning themselves out?
If the music simulation gaming world is ever going to see a decent future, I would suggest that it start making music as more of a challenge than simply making it an overglorified karaoke device made for simulating the songs. Like the real music world, what this industry needs is more growth, exploration, experimentation and boundary pushing. Like life itself, Guitar Hero needed to overcome obstacles and try new things to survive; it did not, and ended up losing the attention of the audience that drove the industry. Until it picks itself up and starts moving forward, we will see many individuals continuously walk away from a has-been game.