Despite declining sales for music games, Activision is further expanding their Guitar Hero franchise. Band Hero and DJ Hero will be joining Guitar Hero 5 in the fall.
The music game phenomenon started with Guitar Hero. The genre previously only appealed to a small segment of the market with games like Dance Dance Revolution and PaRappa the Rapper.
Released in 2005, Guitar Hero was also seen as a niche game. It managed to get enough popularity to be a cult hit. Thanks to the increase exposure, Guitar Hero II became a cultural phenomenon overnight. The easy-to-learn concept, plastic guitar accessory and excellent soundtrack made the franchise into a mainstream powerhouse.
The original developer, Harmonix, eventually left to create Rock Band. Even with the new competition, Activision kept reaping in the benefits of Guitar Hero thanks to Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Guitar Hero: World Tour (the fourth official game of the series).
The best-selling franchise didn’t escape criticism, however. Many critics were upset with Activision for milking the franchise. Six Guitar Hero games were released in 2008 alone and at least another six are planned for 2009.
Unfortunately for Activision, the recent economic downturn has slowed sales. Guitar Hero games are more expensive than others since accessories are bundled in. Therefore, many buyers have a hard time justifying purchasing what essentially is the same game over and over again.
That hasn’t stop Activision from continuing to milk its franchise, however, as they are announcing three new games. One of which is the next mainline Guitar Hero game. Guitar Hero 5 will follow the same band format introduced in Rock Band and Guitar Hero: World Tour. Not much else is known so far other than that it will support drop-in and drop-out play.
The long-rumored DJ Hero was also announced. Just like the Guitar Hero titles, the new game will feature an accessory to immerse the player. The turntable peripheral will put you in the shoes of a club disc jockey. The music in DJ Hero will be diverse as the game supports dance, electronica, hip-hop, Motown and R&B.
Finally, Band Hero was also introduced. Best described as a watered down Guitar Hero title, the new game will also support guitar, drums, bass and microphone. It has been simplified so that novice players can join in on the fun. The soundtrack composes of top 40 family-friendly hits.
So even with the decline of popularity, Activision shows no sings at stopping with the Guitar Hero franchise. All three games that were introduced will arrive in the fall.