Guitar Hero To Add Vocals, Instruments - InformationWeek

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4/22/2008
12:34 PM
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Guitar Hero To Add Vocals, Instruments

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said that adding instruments and "local bands" will help international expansion.

The popular video game Guitar Hero plans to add more instruments and vocals.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick revealed plans for additional features during an interview with Condé Nast Portfolio. The May issue of the magazine quotes the CEO saying that additional instruments will push international expansion.

"It's the first game we've had in which we can use local content and local bands," he added.

The wide-ranging interview delves into Kotick's childhood, his personal taste, his management style, the decor of his home, and his vision for video games.

Kotick said that video games will increasingly use physical connections -- through guitars, light sabers, or other props -- to attract players who wouldn't engage with basic controllers alone.

He also said that on-screen characters will have increasingly realistic facial animation and mouth movements.

The interview doesn't cover legal fights between Activision and Gibson Guitar over patents for Guitar Hero.

Gibson Guitar claims that several companies' music games infringe on its patents on systems that simulate concerts using speakers and a headset. Gibson claims Activision's Guitar Hero violates the patents. It also is suing in U.S. Federal District Court in Tennessee, claiming Harmonix, MTV Networks, and Electronic Arts violate its patents.

Activision recently filed papers in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles asking a judge to dismiss Gibson's claims. Gibson look-alikes, including Les Paul, SG, and Kramer models, are allowed under an undisclosed license agreement between the two companies. Gibson said Activision should obtain licenses for software and controllers.

Guitar Hero was released less than three years ago. Players use a control that is shaped like a Gibson guitar to select scrolling musical notes and play along with music tracks.

Consumers bought 2.72 million units of "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" for the PS2 and total sales for Guitar Hero games surpassed $820 million in 2007. That was a record for a single franchise in one year, according to NDP.

Guitar Hero exceeded $1 billion in North American sales in January, according to Activision. A month earlier, the game went mobile, thanks to a deal with Verizon.

The name of the Guitar Hero game was corrected.

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