Following rumours earlier reported by Eurogamer, Activision have confirmed that they are to axe their well-established Guitar Hero series as they continue to concentrate their focus on “the development of a best-in-class digital community surrounding the Call of Duty franchise” and products that will provide them with the “greatest competitive advantages.”
Writing within their latest financial report, Activision confirm that they are to disband their Guitar Hero series alongside also discontinuing progress on True Crime: Hong Kong:
At the same time, 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. The company also will stop development on True Crime: Hong Kong™. 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.
President and CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, did however continue to laden praise upon both the publisher’s Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises, stating “Activision Blizzard’s key franchises have larger audience bases than ever before and we continue to see significantly enhanced user activity and engagement for our expanding online communities. Our revenues from digital channels, which now account for over 30% of our overall revenues, were driven by increased sales of Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty map packs and value-added services for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft.
“Blizzard significantly evolved its direct digital distribution capabilities with the launch of its new Battle.net® service and saw players embrace its service offerings in record numbers,” he continued. “Notably, since Call of Duty: Black Ops was launched in November players have spent an average of 52 minutes per day playing online, roughly equivalent to the 55 minutes that the average user spends each day on Facebook. As of February 2, 2011, more than 27 million gamers have played Call of Duty games online, logging more than 2 billion hours, or the equivalent of more than 229,000 years of gameplay.”
Kotick concludes, “Online gaming continues to broaden its appeal. Our shareholders continue to be well positioned to benefit from these trends and the focus of our incredibly talented employees around the world continues to allow us to lead our industry. We expect to continue to drive long-term growth, increase our return on invested capital and generate strong cash flow as we have over the last few years. Our strong balance sheet affords us the financial flexibility to invest in games that few companies have the ability to create and allows us to provide our shareholders with value through dividends and share repurchases.”
From here, Activision Blizzard affirm that they “will continue to invest its capital and resources in the significant opportunities afforded by online gaming worldwide and will reduce its exposure to low-margin and low-potential businesses.”
During 2011, they are to allocate a majority of their resources to focus towards “opportunities which we expect will afford us the greatest competitive advantages and the greatest potential for best-in-class quality, high-margin digital growth, and long-term success.”
More importantly, they detail that such opportunities will include “Blizzard Entertainment’s games currently in development, robust investment in forthcoming Call of Duty titles, the development of a best-in-class digital community surrounding the Call of Duty franchise, a new property from Bungie and an innovative new universe with broad appeal that will be revealed at Toy Fair later this week and will bring the world of toys, video games and the Internet together in an unprecedented way.”
Such investments are deemed to better position Activision Blizzard for “long-term growth and enable it to continue expanding its position as the largest digital publisher.”