Billion-Dollar Expectations Caused Activision to 'Abuse' Guitar Hero, Says Ex-PublisherS

The ex-CEO of Guitar Hero's original publisher, RedOctane, has weighed in on Activision's decision to close down the franchise, completing the cycle of reaction. Kelly Sumner says the publisher "abused" the franchise and had unrealistic expectations for it.

"Not every game can be a billion dollar franchise, but maybe that's what Activision wants," said Sumner, who as CEO of RedOctane sold the company to Activision in 2006; Activision closed it one year ago. Sumner was speaking to MCV, a news site operated by Intent Media, of which he is now CEO.

"[Activision] tried to get too much out of the franchise too quickly. They abused it," Sumner said. "There's no reason why Guitar Hero cannot continue. It's a great product. My gut tells me there is still a significant market for Guitar Hero.

"I'd be surprised if they sold the brand as it'd prove to the world there is still a market for this product and show them up," Sumner said.

Activision bought RedOctane out in a $99.9 million cash-and-stock acquisition in 2006, making it into a division of the company. It had a hand in the development or publication of all games in the main Guitar Hero series - the original, II, III, World Tour, 5 and Warriors of Rock, which released after Activision closed RedOctane in February 2010.

Sumner said Activision expected too much revenue from the franchise every year, and insinuated its relentless production schedule placed sales over quality. "Look at how Take-Two has handled [Grand Theft Auto]," Sumner said. "They haven't thrown products out there. They've nurtured it for over ten years and it is still a strong franchise."

Sumner's comments are part of a larger analysis of Guitar Hero's demise. See the link for more.

No More (Guitar) Heroes [MCV]