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Bobby Kotick talks Guitar and DJ Hero, the fall and the coming rise


Bobby Kotick earned more than $4.4 billion through Activision Blizzard last year, which means his business success is obvious -- but so are his failures. In an interview with Forbes, Kotick described the downfall of the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero franchises with the kind of detail that can only come from lying awake every night for four years straight, obsessing over what went wrong.
"So we bought the company, and after a few iterations of the game it became one of the most successful games of all time," Kotick said. "And then we didn't really take the time that we usually take to understand audience behavior.... But we created this critically acclaimed, highly rated game -- and these are the hardest failures, when you put your heart and soul into it and you deliver an extraordinarily well received game, and nobody shows up to buy it. So that's what happened with DJ Hero. At the same time we were so excited about going down this new direction with DJ Hero, I think we abandoned a bit of the innovation that was required in the Guitar Hero franchise.

"And so it was the double whammy of DJ Hero was unsuccessful, and then Guitar Hero became unsuccessful because it didn't have any nourishment and care."
Kotick said ending the music-game franchises was a smart move, but that doesn't mean they'll be gone forever. "So we're going to take the products out of the market, and we're not going to tell anybody what we're doing for awhile, but we're going to stop selling Guitar Hero altogether," Kotick said. "And then we're going to go back to the studios and we're going to use new studios and reinvent Guitar Hero. And so that's what we're doing with it now."

Kotick promised Activision Blizzard listens to its consumers and will use fan input to innovate Guitar and DJ Hero. That Kotick plans to resurrect the series must mean some fans, somewhere, are inputting something other than "Kill it, Kotick."

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