Guitar Hero, the Activision game franchise that went from billion-dollar baby to bust faster than a VH-1 Behind The Music episode, relaunched today as Guitar Hero Live with a splashy, celeb-filled New York event.
Fall Out Boy frontman Pete Wentz, My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way, Uma Thurman, High School Musical (and now Gigi) star Vanessa Hudgens and NFL players Rob Gronkowski and Jamaal Charles were among those who turned out to celebrate the return of the franchise.
For five years beginning in late 2005, various iterations of Guitar Hero and its competitor Rock Band dominated a new genre of music performance titles. They used specialized controllers that looked like guitars or other instruments, requiring a player to interact with specific song notes as they scrolled by onscreen.
The games gave players a chance to play along with high-profile licensed tracks from big-name bands. They proved addictive for fans and profitable for Activision, which said the franchise generated more than $2 billion in sales, making it one of the best-selling game series ever.
But oversaturation of the market (there were 8 major titles and five expansions in those five years) amid a general recession and a game-industry turndown saw Guitar Hero sales collapse by 2010, leading to a hiatus and then cancellation of a last planned title in 2011.
The new title actually comprises two parts. As suggested in the “reveal” trailer at the top of this story, the GH Live portion will involve playing the game in front of live audiences online. It’s a natural step given the huge audiences on Twitch, Ustream.TV and other live-video platforms who watch gameplay streams of many different games every day.
The other component, termed GHTV, is comprised of a rotating array of “hundreds of music videos you can play,” according to the trailer.
The game is scheduled to launch this fall, and will be playable on consoles as well as smartphones and tablets, neither of which were significant game platforms in the franchise’s original heyday. FreeStyleGames is the game studio producing the title for Activision.