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THE show is over for Guitar Hero, which has been axed by its publisher Activision Blizzard.

The game which turned lounge-room geeks into stadium rock gods was killed off due to a sharp decline in the music game genre, the company said.
However the song may go on for rival games such as Rock Band, which has not experienced such drastic action in the face of slowing sales.

Activision Blizzard posted its quarterly results, showing narrower losses after the success of its other franchise games Call of Duty: Black Ops and World of Warcraft, according to MarketWatch. But the company isn’t planning to release any more Guitar Hero games, it says.

“Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing’s Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011,” it said in a statement.

Activision Blizzard also axed True Crime: Hong Kong – which was slated for release later this year.
“These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences,” the company said in a statement.

The Guitar Hero series began in 2006, with several successful titles. Activision reported in 2008 that the franchise had sold over 16 million units in North America alone, exceeding $US1 billion in sales – not counting downloadable content.

The company went on to claim that Guitar Hero was the third-largest game series, after Mario and Madden NFL.

Guitar Hero was a watershed for the music game genre, with its iconic guitar-shaped controller, classic and current rock songs and digital cameos by rock stars.
Slash, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Ozzy Osbourne have all appeared in the game, and entire titles in the series have been dedicated to the music of Aerosmith, Metallica and Van Halen.

Metallica took things a step further by releasing playable tracks for its album Death Magnetic at the same time as the CD was released.

Guitar Hero has ongoing revenue built-in with downloadable content, and bands featured in the game have experienced massive sales increases.

The game was a cultural phenomenon, being parodied by South Park and becoming the subject of themed pub nights and international competitions. It also launched a spinoff title, DJ Hero, which recently released a sequel.

The original Guitar Hero developers, Harmonix, split in 2007 to develop rival series Rock Band with MTV and EA Games. Commercially, Rock Band remained on the heels of Guitar Hero, selling over 13 million copies and exceeding $US1 billion in sales.

While the music games genre can be lucrative for publishers, they also cost a lot to get made, with tens of thousands of dollars spent on music licensing and increased costs associated with manufacturing intrument-shaped controllers.

Last financial quarter, Activision Blizzard lost $US233 million ($230.8 million), or $US0.20 a share, compared to a loss of $US286 million ($283.3 million), or $US0.23 a share, for the same period last year, MarketWatch reports.

The company’s shares fell over six per cent in after-hours trading after Activision’s quarterly and fiscal year forecasts proved to be much lower that Wall Street expectations.