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Kotick:  Guitar Hero 's Dedicated Resources Enable 'Domination'
Kotick: Guitar Hero's Dedicated Resources Enable 'Domination'
September 18, 2008 | By Eric Caoili

September 18, 2008 | By Eric Caoili
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Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, commenting at an investor conference, says that the company's Guitar Hero games outsell competitor Electronic Arts' Rock Band by a ratio of six units to one.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XVII Conference, as reported on by game weblog Kotaku, Kotick explained that the publisher has a unique advantage due to its access to "30% of the world’s music" with Universal's catalog.

He also believes that Activision's employee headcount has kept the company a step ahead of its rhythm game competitors.

"Our next-nearest competitor has a couple of hundred people working on these projects," said Kotick. "We have close to 2000 people just dedicated to the Guitar Hero note tracking, introduction of new hardware, introduction of new software, and so we just have a lot more in the way of resources available to us to continue to dominate the category."

Activision has over a dozen titles released or planned for its multiplatform Guitar Hero franchise, including spin-offs and portable titles, compared to Rock Band's sole release for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, and Wii.

Earlier this week, Kotick revealed that the publisher intends to triple the amount of its total released Guitar Hero games and content by 2010.

Towards that end, the company has no fewer than seven studios working on the Guitar Hero franchise. Last week, B-Boy developer FreeStyleGames was acquired and will be providing localized content for the upcoming Guitar Hero: World Tour.


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Comments


Anonymous
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This individual would not seem in my estimation to have a good grasp of the fundamentals of software design.



The structure of your organization, company culture, and the talent of your staff are much more critical than raw body count. I can throw 10,000 bodies at a project and it doesn't mean I'm going to get the best possible output.

Andrew Dovichi
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Exactly, I'd rather have a company of 'just' 200 people who share a passion for music that just can't be matched in this industry than close to 2,000 people working the assembly line with the 'another day, another dollar' mentality.



That isn't to say that there aren't passionate individuals working on Guitar Hero now, there just aren't as many as there are on Rock Band and it shows in the final product.

Steve Amodio
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Of course it isn't a direct correlation to game quality, but it probably has a significant amount to do with the fact that with the exception of a few hiccups, the hardware situation has been far in favor of Activision as EA had a new, immature process in place as Harmonix took on manufacturing on their own and clearly had massive quality control issues once they finally got to market. They also have dedicated resources working to assure a consistent level of quality throughout most platforms and expand first out to newer markets like the DS and, soon, the PSP, as is rumored, where Harmonix had issues getting PS3 up to speed, much less the mailed-in PS2 and Wii ports that they didn't even bother with.



There are definite business AND consumer-side advantages to having the manpower to deliver in the volume that Activision has been doing since they took over Guitar Hero and I think the sales reflect that. That is, after all, what he was discussing.

Jeremy Johnston
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I would also argue that Guitar Hero sells more units because of a brand name made reputable by their competition. Because Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2 were so popular, it created an un-earned name for future iterations of the game.



It's similar to the flow of the Spiderman film series. Spiderman 3 is widely regarded as the worst in the series, yet it still made the most money, because it carried the reputation of the first two movies along with it.



The next installment may not do as well since audiences may be a bit apprehensive, but even if an entirely different studio or director made Spiderman 4, more people would see it than a Sam Raimi film that doesn't already have a name for itself. Unfortunately, instead of the name "Sam Raimi" (Harmonix) being important to consumers, it's "Spiderman", or in this case, "Guitar Hero".

Steve Amodio
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@Jeremy:



I'd argue that RedOctane had as much to do with the smashing success of Guitar Hero as Harmonix did. My aching fingers would agree after using the Rock Band Fender.

Jeremy Johnston
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Steve, I was talking more about the software end of things than the hardware.



However, on the hardware side of things I'm quite curious to see how World Tour does compared to Rock Band 2, as I expect the new GH version with the drums and mic will be extremely expensive compared to the other versions.

Geoffrey Mackey
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Rock Band 2 is great. I was really surprised that GH didn't get blown away. They carved themselves a niche quite well. I am disappointed to see they are well on their way to destroying the franchise. They're going to triple their releases? While I'm intrigued by world tour, I dislike the way activision handled the hardware compatibility. They said they gave Harmonix "the opportunity to license their products." But because no one is going to buy their drum-kit, they sudden support all competitors hardware? I wonder if Harmonix is sorry they let the GH brand out of their hands.



But it's just politics as usual I guess...

Jamie Mann
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There's a few reasons why Guitar Hero sells more than Rock Band, but the key ones are:

1) Price. A full RB setup costs double the equivalent GH

2) Physical size: how many people have room for RB kit?

3) Gameplay: all current GH games are geared towards single-player, while RB is geared towards multiplayer



(oh, and the fact that GH is existing pre-prepped IP will have helped as well... There's also the European pricing debacle for RB (roughly double the US price), which seriously affected sales in this region - oh, and RB hasn't even been released in Australia. Harmonix/MTV do seem to have stuttered in more than a few areas)



Overall, we're currently comparing motorbikes (GH) to sports cars (RB). It's not the same market, and quantity of development resource doesn't affect anything.



It'll be more interesting when GH:World Tour is released - the advantage may then be on Harmonix's side, as there's a large number of people out there with RB kit - and speaking personally, while I'm happy to buy the games, I've no intention of upgrading the physical hardware for the sequels. There's also the issue that less-hardcore gamers may not be aware that equipment is cross-compatible, effectively locking them into Rock Band.

Isaiah Williams
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Really? 10 times as many people working on the game and only selling 6 times as much? Might not want to brag about that to your shareholders.

Anonymous
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once again LACK O VISION takes credit for something they had nothing to do with creating. LACKOVISION just jumps on board once its succesful...


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