Gaming continues to see games that are evergreen, living and long-term products that don’t just serve players for a month or so and then die off; they live on for months and months after releasing. It has been five years since we saw the last full installment in the Guitar Hero series and with this fall’s newest iteration on the horizon, Guitar Hero Live is looking to become something more than what the series was before.
Activision has partnered up with FreeStyle Games, who is the current developer on the upcoming title, and they are aiming to create some breakthrough innovations, like the series did years ago when it was first released. Activision’s CEO Eric Hirshberg talked about what makes a great franchise and how Guitar Hero is taking the concept of fantasy in a new direction.
“Most franchises have a universal fantasy at their core, where that’s being a galactic explorer or being a solider or professional athlete; the games and the genres that last have that fantasy of fulfillment baked into them. I think the fantasy at the core of Guitar Hero is one of our most powerful and universal cultural fantasies; and this game is really designed to further that fantasy in a really visceral and vivid way,” Hirshberg told atombash.com.
It really is an intriguing experience to witness a crowd in front of you reacting positively or negatively to your performance. While it may seem like a novelty to some, the game does invoke a set of feelings that most games cannot replicate.
If you’ve played previous installments of the Guitar Hero franchise, then you know about how the game’s controller changed things forever. That said, the innovation eventually became tired and fans didn’t connect with it like they used to. Activision believes they have created an innovation of a similar magnitude in Guitar Hero Live.
“The magic the first time around was the controller, that was the breakthrough, but what was going on behind that screen really didn’t do much to further that fantasy. It wasn’t really critical to the game, but now, what’s happening there really is the game. You’re going to win or lose that audience’s approval based on your performance, which is what rockstars get,” Hirshberg said.
Instead of looking down for the success, players will be looking up at the screen to see a crowd that reacts to their success or failure. Activision saw the live audience as the next, logical step for the Guitar Hero franchise, even though it was a step that wasn’t the easiest to execute.
“I think that is why it was such a natural step forward, and then I think figuring out how to do that on real film, which is not a virtue in video games, [was a challenge]. This also makes it more fun for the people who are in the room, but aren’t playing, because they have a lot more to watch and engage with. I’ve noticed people really like watching other people play this game,” Hirshberg said.
While the variation and longevity of it is still undetermined, it’s hard to deny the entertainment value of being a spectator and watching the crowd turn on the person playing. The crowd’s reactions themselves are pretty funny, as are the actions of the band members on stage when someone’s skills don’t impress.
“Guitar Hero has always been a great party game and now we’ve made it an even better party game. The music videos are designed to be really compelling viewing with high production value and you’re right there with the stars themselves. This gives us a platform to keep people coming back,” Hirshberg said.
Activision plans to continue releasing new tracks for players to enjoy long past the game’s initial release this fall. People can pick up new tracks via Guitar Hero Live’s feature called GHTV and it will be an area for people to explore new songs, something previous Guitar Hero games didn’t do in this manner.
“In previous Guitar Hero games, there were a lot of songs and value, but you found the few songs you liked and played them and then moved on. With Guitar Hero Live, there are so many reasons to come back, there’s the crowd, the different levels of difficulty and then there’s GHTV. That not only gives you new music, but it gives you the ability to play with your friends online, compete, get on a leaderboard and express yourself. It’s just a really cool set of innovations,” Hirshberg said.
Among the other games being released by Activision for this coming Fall, Guitar Hero Live is one of the biggest. The game will hit stores on Oct. 20 for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U.