NEW YORK (AP) -- These days, guns are more popular than guitars, at least when it comes to video games. The company behind "Guitar Hero" said Wednesday that it is pulling the plug on one of the most influential video game titles of the new century.
Activision Blizzard Inc., which also produces the "Call of Duty" series, is ending the "Guitar Hero" franchise after a run of more than five years. The move follows Viacom Inc.'s decision in November to sell its money-losing unit behind the "Rock Band" video games. Harmonix was sold to an investment firm for an undisclosed sum. Harmonix, incidentally, was behind the first "Guitar Hero" game.
Game industry analysts have long lamented the "weakness in the music genre," as they call it -- that is, the inability of game makers to drum up demand for the products after an initial surge in popularity in the mid-2000s. Music games are often more expensive than your typical shoot-'em-up game because they require guitars, microphones and other musical equipment. While extra songs can be purchased for download, this hasn't been enough to keep the games profitable.
Activision's shares tumbled after the announcement, but investors appear more concerned with the company's disappointing revenue forecast than the demise of the rocker game. As far as investors go, discontinuing an unprofitable product isn't the end of the world, even if "Guitar Hero" fans disagree.
"In retrospect it was a $3 billion or more business that everybody needed to buy, so they did, but they only needed to buy it once," said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. "It's much like 'Wii Fit.' Once you have it, you don't need to buy another one."
"Guitar Hero" was iconic and often praised for getting a generation weaned on video games into music. But its end after a mere half a decade is a big contrast to other influential video game franchises, such as the 25-year-old Mario series from Nintendo. "Call of Duty" first launched in 2003, two years before "Guitar Hero."