Activision Blizzard CEO thinks Guitar Hero and Skylanders could be revived by Microsoft

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has said the publisher’s acquisition by Microsoft could see the revival of the classic rhythm game series Guitar Hero.

Speaking to VentureBeat about the new possibilities that would be available to Activision after its deal with Microsoft is finalized, Kotick said a new Guitar Hero game could be possible, with the company afforded greater opportunities to pursue more logistically-demanding projects that wouldn’t be feasible without Microsoft’s backing.

“I wanted to make a new Guitar Hero for a while, but I don’t want to add teams to do manufacturing and supply chain and QA for manufacturing,” Kotick said. “And the chip shortages are enormous.

“We didn’t really have the ability to do that. I had a really cool vision for what the next Guitar Hero would be, and realized we don’t have the resources to do that.”

Kotick goes on to make a similar point about the self-styled toys-to-life game Skylanders, which first came about as a Spyro spin-off and received regular releases until 2016.

“One of the great disappointments of my career is that other people came in and they came out with crappy alternatives,” he said about Skylanders. 

“And they dumped all of these crappy alternatives in the market, and basically destroyed the market for what was a really cool future opportunity.

“If you look at Skylanders, with its hardware and manufacturing and supply chain, there are the same kinds of things that we can’t do but Microsoft can.”


Analysis: Microsoft is a mammoth

A fretboard in Guitar Hero Live

(Image credit: Activision)

It’s not hugely surprising that a Guitar Hero revival is back on the table. After the Microsoft-Activision acquisition was announced earlier this week, we reckoned the wannabe-rockstar rhythm game had a good chance of sticking its head above the parapet and reclaiming the love it’s been missing out on for the past several years.

Kotick’s reason for its regeneration is more interesting, however. He suggests Activision hadn’t lost faith in the brand, or the basic appeal of its games, but wasn’t prepared to overcome the immediate logistical problems involved in rebooting the franchise. 

The idea that a billion-dollar company like Activision couldn’t find the resources to create a new manufacturing team, or expand its supply chain management, sounds like a stretch. But, if nothing else, his comments do demonstrate just how mammoth a company Microsoft is if Kotick thinks it has the means to pursue projects that Activision couldn’t. With Activision Blizzard under its belt, Microsoft will only get larger.

Kotick's comments also indicate the potential direction that Microsoft will take the series. Last year, Unplugged: Air Guitar made some noise for recreating Guitar Hero’s basic rock ‘n’ roll rhythm gameplay in VR. It ditched the accessories and had you furiously strumming the air rather than haphazardly plonking your fingers across a plastic fretboard.

Here, Kotick suggests Guitar Hero wouldn’t pursue a similar direction, with the game’s physical, manufactured elements staying. Maybe miniature Flying Vs will be hitting shelves again in the near future.

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