This past February, Activision announced that it was officially stopping production of its Guitar Hero franchise. This announcement comes on the heels of a quarterly loss of $286 million dollars in the last quarter of 2009 as well as poor sales numbers for the latest title in the series, Warrior of Rock.
The cause of the sales trouble can be blamed on what one analyst describes as a market being flooded with peripherals that were just “good enough” to be purchased, but hardly worth the high cost, especially when many gamers had yet to master the extensive song tracks in other releases. Wedbush analysts Michael Pachter said that this meant that “once you bought the band kit, you didn’t need to upgrade to next year’s version.” Sure, you could buy the next version to hear the new songs, but other than that there was little reason to continue.
This news, combined with the record-breaking sales figures of Activision’s latest release, Call of Duty: Black Ops, gives us some interesting information about the changing interests of the video-gaming audience. First of all, the popularity of the Guitar Hero franchise showed us that video games now had expanded beyond the stereotypical audience of teenage boys interested in ultra-violent games. Secondly, the popularity of Black Ops shows that the video game audience does pay attention to what’s good and what isn’t, regardless of subject matter.
So based on these two bits of information, what can we forecast regarding new console-based video games? What will it take to create another successful video game franchise that has the playability to attract hardcore gamers while still being accessible to mainstream audiences?
For example, will the Call of Duty franchise peak similarly as the Guitar Hero franchise? After all, the game play is fairly constant throughout. Although the campaign mode can be changed to accommodate many storylines, the multiplayer mode cannot be improved all that much, and that’s what people really care about. So if that multiplayer mode remains as playable as it truly is, then Activision can bank on the military first person shooter for a while longer.
But, let’s turn it over to you. When you examine the previews and forthcoming video game releases, which one has the best chance to be the next blockbuster release? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? Or whatever secret project Rockstar Games is working on? What’s your best guess? Feel free to leave a prediction in the comments.
==== About the Author ====
This guest contribution was submitted by Katheryn Rivas, who particularly enjoys writing about online universities. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to katherynrivas87 @gmail.com.