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What Happened to Guitar Hero?

Rarely does something come along in the gaming industry that completely changes how people experience the hobby. While this could be said for just about every pastime out there, gaming’s ongoing flirtation with technology means that it’s privy to many of the same soaring highs and desperate lows as the worlds of mobile phones, doorbells, and printers.

For example, just look at how the worldwide shortage of integrated circuits has affected console gamers, and particularly PlayStation 5 fans.

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Back in 2005, Guitar Hero was one of these earthshaking developments. While peripherals have existed for a long time – 1977’s Coleco Telstar Arcade had a steering wheel and a lightgun – the interaction between Guitar Hero’s plastic guitar and the notes played on the TV were special if not revolutionary.

In fact, including songs like DragonForce’s Through the Fire and Flames, a nearly seven-minute epic played at 200BPM, would inevitably help Guitar Hero become pop culture royalty, even something of a meme for broken-fingered millennials. All that fame was short-lived, though.

Over seven main titles, Guitar Hero wore out its welcome in just a single decade. However, it’s hard to lay the blame for its demise at the toes of its own knee-high boots.

Battle Royale

For one, Guitar Hero’s flagging career has nothing to do with a lost fondness for music games. Ubisoft’s Just Dance series is still going strong, as is Dance Dance Revolution. Cross over into casino gaming, and both Kiss and Guns N’ Roses have licensed slots at online casinos such as STS Casino.

That name might not ring many bells on UK shores (it’s a Polish brand) but the SuperLenny website ranks STS as the best casino on these shores due to its support for classic slots. While those two musical slots don’t necessarily fit into that category, the casino is notable for its all-encompassing approach to game themes and developers.

So, what, exactly, went wrong for the beloved console rocker Guitar Hero? The gaming industry is notorious for grinding good ideas into the ground. A good, recent example involves the battle royale genre, which has produced so many knock-offs and rip-offs that plenty of them have already been forgotten about. Yet, one game that started the craze, PUBG, is just four years old.

Rock Band

Due to its overwhelming success, Guitar Hero inadvertently birthed an entirely new genre to compete with itself.

Rock Band is the obvious example of a nemesis for Guitar Hero but DJ Hero and Band Hero both emerged at roughly the same time. However, there was more than heavy competition at work in the declining popularity of the band game. In such large boxes, and at prices that might better be spent on a real instrument, these gluttons for plastic would prove too expensive for both retailers and customers to stock and purchase. Adhering to a yearly release schedule wasn’t the best idea, either.

What of the future, though? What does all the above mean for the Guitar Hero series? Well, nothing. Ultimately, Ubisoft’s instrument sim remains in the franchise laundry pile.

However, there have been murmurs of resurrection since Xbox purchased Activision, the current holder of the Guitar Hero license, which could spark fresh interest in the music genre.

Unfortunately, it’s all just speculation at the moment.


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