Guitar Hero is officially dead, long live Guitar Hero


With how busy games news has been over the past week with E3 looming and games leaking everywhere, this weekend Activision quietly announced the end of the Guitar Hero TV portion of Guitar Hero Live by December this year. Given how these types of rhythm games live and die based on the song offerings, this is pretty much the end of the road for the Guitar Hero franchise.

In all honesty this isn’t really surprising given the pattern over the years: FreeStyle Games (Makers of this title and the spin-off Band Hero) had some layoffs and were eventually bought by Ubisoft over a year ago, and the GH Twitter account has been dormant since the end of 2017, which leads me to speculate that there has been no support for Live in the past six months.

I’m more fascinated in that this is the sad and rather unfeeling end for a franchise that was once one of Activision’s marquee properties, and a series that was quite significant in the history of modern video games. I mean Activision has had a history of making its old top franchises die horrible deaths (Pro Skater 5), but still it’s sad that Guitar Hero isn’t even getting that kind of spectacle.

So any thoughts on where the plastic guitar games go from here? How long will it take before GH comes back? Will we ever see another moment equal to this WSJ lady owning Bobby Kotick on stage?


This is a damn shame. Guitar Hero Live was such a cool game with some really clever ideas. I totally understand why it didn’t take off though, as it seemed too ambitious for its own good. It really seemed like not a lot of people wanted to go through the hassle of buying a new guitar and going through the learning curve of a new control scheme. This is where Rock Band 4 kinda won people over, as Harmonix was really dedicated to making your old shit work on new consoles.

As for the future, I think it’s dead for this current generation. Harmonix have said that they’re only doing one big Rock Band game per generation and steadily updating it with song dlc, modes, and bug fixes (a smart choice, I’d say). After both Rock Band and Guitar Hero Live not doing too hot, I don’t think anyone is going to try this type of game for a while.


The Guitar Hero franchise was basically dead to me once it was separated from Harmonix, the people that actually created it and made it something special. I had an okay time with GHIII, but never picked up any of the releases after that.

Guitar Hero Live definitely had some neat ideas and I actually really liked their DLC model, but I think the days of solo plastic instrument games are pretty much over. I hope Freestyle Games comes up with something great with Ubisoft’s support, though. I feaking love DJ Hero.

Rock Band 4 is still alive and kicking, and while its initial release was pretty bare bones, it’s still a real tough act to follow at this point. They’ve built up a library of thousands of DLC songs and its structure is much more conducive to being a fun party/karaoke experience.


I think it will take a lot for plastic instrument games to come back in a serious way, especially guitar or rock based games. Guitar sales in general are down and the number of guitar forward bands out there that a younger generation are interested in like they were in the past is practically zero. The proliferation of digital tools, the expense of a guitar, and the popularity of other genres makes the market for this kind of thing increasingly small.


I’ve played Guitar Hero almost every year since I was around 12 or 13 years old (I’m 24 now for reference), and I think Rock Band will probably take up the mantle from here on out. If not, there’s a PC game that mimics Guitar Hero to a tee called “Clone Hero” that most of the old school players, including myself, have migrated over to. If guitar hero is going to continue, I’d think it would need to manage to offer something more than Clone Hero, which is the Guitar Hero gameplay, paired with the unlimited options of custom songs, as well as features like speeding up songs that it took from other rhythm games like Stepmania and Osu. Guitar Hero is one of my favorite games, so I’ll probably keep playing it, but in order for a new release to be widely popular with the core community, it’d need to step its game up, and fast. Rock Band seems to be the only property trying to do that (and is also helped by the large amount of DLC that was already out for it that’s incredibly fun to play)!


Clone Hero is so good. I bought my first eBay guitar in forever once I saw that people were making full setlists of new content (which are charted well). Rock Band PC is maybe the only thing that could’ve topped that in terms of satisfying that core audience, but that didn’t turn out obviously.

I think GH as a brand is dead for the foreseeable future, but there’s a twitch/youtube audience still excited about it. It’s not the first time a freeware game has wrestled control of a property’s staying power.


I really hope that Rock Band does well, honestly. I always like the engine in Rock Band better than Guitar Hero, but connectivity issues with the controller kind of ruin it for me on ps4. Clone Hero is so good, though, that it works in making a great game that makes me kinda wish Rock Band 4 was as good as it.


@penelopie I got heavily into Clone Hero a few months back and have recently returned to it to chart some songs made by folks I know. Obviously there’s some weird stuff there with music sharing and all, but damn is some of the songs people have uploaded to that game are delightful (I found a Best Coast song on CH, which was a weird and nice surprise) I’m with you in that I still prefer how polished and fluid (For the most part) Rock Band 4 is, but given how I’ve found Harmonix’s DLC choices this year to be a little dismal, CH just barely edges it out just based on the breadth of songs available.

Wow, this is a really good point. I could not afford to keep up with video games when GH and RB were at their peak so I entered the plastic guitar phase quite late, but I never thought that they were hits partly because the people that played them grew up in the 90s / early 00s.


I never played GH Live (Rock Band 4 got its hooks in me this generation), but as someone who really enjoys rhythm games, that’s some rather sad news. And as someone who LOVED the DJ Hero series (also made by Freestyle Games), I’m slightly optimistic that maybe the folks at Freestyle may get another chance to try something different (though I’d absolutely take a DJ Hero 3).