Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits Guitar Hero HQ (for a Sneak Peek of GH5, Band Hero and DJ Hero)


Despite the challenges the music gaming industry has been facing of late–such as sales dropping, yipes, almost 50 percent in the U.S. this year–the top companies in the field are still churning out new products like it’s nobody’s business.

Well, actually, they are hoping it is going to be somebody’s business–namely, theirs–as they seek to reinvigorate the category, which has been one of the most innovative over the last several years.

Case in point is a spate of new products from the Guitar Hero division of Activision Blizzard (ATVI), which is coming out this fall with three separate major launches.

The fifth version of Guitar Hero arrives tomorrow with 85 tracks, more famous player characters and new features; the family-aimed Band Hero comes out soon after that; and then–in what is probably the most important debut of the three–DJ Hero will be released on October 27.

In that game, a player can turn into some kind of club king, scratching along with unusual mashups that Guitar Hero provides with the new game, which are heavy on hip-hop (versus Guitar Hero’s more typical rock and roll vibe).

[In related news, one of the key player characters in DJ Hero–DJ AM, whose real name was Adam Goldstein–was found dead in his apartment in New York on Friday night.)

Nonetheless, the show will go on.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of DJ AM,” said Tim Riley, Activision VP of music affairs, in a statement. “We hope that his work on the game will be a fitting tribute to his creative spirit and musical talent.”]

Does this burst of energy coming from Guitar Hero, which has heretofore dominated the music game space, have to do with the Sept. 9 debut of a new Beatles title for Rock Band, the music game from Viacom (VIA)?

As the Fab Four might sing: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But it also has to do with both music game rivals trying to keep consumers from getting weary of the entire genre.

In that vein, for example, the makers of Beatles: Rock Band are telling consumers to use Guitar Hero controllers to play.

In anticipation of these rollouts, BoomTown visited Guitar Hero’s HQ in Mountain View, Calif., to get a look-see at the new stuff (tomorrow, I will also post interviews I did with Guitar Hero division CEO Dan Rosensweig and its brother founders).

For today, though, here’s the video of the tour, as well as the Playboy Playmates television advertisement for Guitar Hero 5 (I do believe they are aiming at a male demo, so don’t blame me–and it is kind of funny):