Guitar Hero business ‘disbanded’

The reports are correct. There will be no more Guitar Hero games.

"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," a statement in Activision’s financial report, filed tonight, reveals.

Earlier tonight Eurogamer claimed that the series was to face the chop alongside action outing True Crime. Cancellation of the latter title has also been confirmed.

Activision has also confirmed the cancellation of both any potential new DJ Hero title and the next Tony Hawk game. Neither series will see a release in 2011.

The publisher admitted that its peripheral-based titles – which include Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and Tony Hawk – performed well below expectations in 2010.

It also confessed that True Crime would have been unable to compete with high-profile free-roaming rivals.

The news comes as part of the publisher’s financial report which for calendar year 2010 reveals a small climb in net revenue to $4.8bn, up from $4.78bn in 2009. Activision Blizzard claims it was the market leading publisher in both North America and Europe in 2010.

Digital revenues for the year were strong, climbing 20 per cent to over $1.5bn.

For the quarter ending December 31st net revenues reached $2.5bn – slightly down on the $2.55bn reported a year before. Digital sales for the quarter were up 40 per cent year-on-year.

"Because of focus and disciplined execution, 2010 was another extraordinary year for Activision Blizzard," CEO Bobby Kotick stated.

"We made some of the best games we have ever made in over 30 years of being in the interactive entertainment business. We benefited from new content releases for two of the world’s most successful online entertainment franchises: Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty: Black Ops and Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, a new installment in the world’s largest subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

"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 per cent 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.

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 2nd 2011, more than 27m gamers have played Call of Duty games online, logging more than 2bn hours, or the equivalent of more than 229,000 years of gameplay.

"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."

The company makes plenty of noise about "the significant opportunities afforded by online gaming worldwide" in its forward looking statement, party as such avenues "will reduce exposure to low-margin and low-potential businesses" -presumably a reference to risky console triple-A development.

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