Rhythm Games – Guitar Hero (2005)
RedOctane and Harmonix were in trouble. RedOctane’s entire business revolved around making high-end pads for Dance Dance Revolution, and the company’s survival rested on the whims of DDR’s developer Konami. Harmonix had released the critically-acclaimed Frequency and Amplitude, neither of which sold well, and the mediocre but somewhat successful Karaoke Revolution and EyeToy: Antigrav.
RedOctane saw an opportunity to start a new franchise, inspired by the Japanese GuitarFreaks but in the Western market. While RedOctane had the hardware expertise, they needed a software studio to write the game itself, and enlisted Harmonix. Guitar Hero was an instant success and the team immediately began production on a series of sequels.
The RedOctane-owned Guitar Hero franchise was soon purchased by Activision. Only a few months later, Harmonix was acquired by MTV Networks and would eventually develop the equally-successful Rock Band series, which joined the traditional solo guitar with a second guitar, drum set, and microphone, all playing different parts of the same song.
The market for music games became saturated. No new game play was developed and revenues declined. Activision closed the Guitar Hero division in February, 2011, and Rock Band is also on hiatus.
Gift of Daniel Greathouse, Kelli Eisenhauer, 2012.002.002, 2012.002.004