Guitar Hero Changes Music
by Adam Preskill
A Screenshot of Guitar Hero. BELOW, FROM LEFT: A screenshot of DJ Hero; Bobby Kotick
After 19 years as head of one of the world’s top video-game companies, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is now at the center of an international phenomenon with the popular Guitar Hero franchise. Los Angeles Confidential recently caught up with Kotick to find out how Guitar Hero is changing the way we relate to our favorite music and what’s next for the undiscovered hero in all of us.
LOS ANGELES CONFIDENTIAL: How do you think Guitar Hero and similar games have changed music audiences?
BOBBY KOTICK: Guitar Hero allows audiences to engage music in a much deeper way than simply listening. Our research shows that 50 percent of people who own the game prefer interacting with music through Guitar Hero than in any other way. The franchise is broadening the reach of artists and providing a much more engaging way for fans to connect with their music.
LAC: What about the way it’s changed how people buy music—as a physical product like a CD—versus a web platform like iTunes or with games such as Guitar Hero?
BK: Guitar Hero is providing new revenue streams for music publishers and artists. Since the launch of the franchise we have sold in excess of 35 million games, and fans have downloaded an additional 40 million licensed songs. The good news for our retailers is that fans can’t download a guitar or drum controller.
LAC: How will DJ Hero up the ante?
BK: We are really excited about DJ Hero. The game will offer a social-gaming experience to all
new audiences through diverse music genres such as hip-hop, R&B, Motown, electronica and dance, and two of the most important artists in the history of music—Jay-Z and Eminem—are now deeply involved in the game.
LAC: What other new music-related products or prototypes are you working on?
BK: Right now we’re focused on the holiday launch of our three new titles—Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero and Band Hero—which together will offer incredible new game-play experiences and great new music. Guitar Hero 5 will feature the hottest rock-’n’-roll artists of today, as well as classic rock bands. DJ Hero will offer club and dance music, and Band Hero will feature top-40 hits designed to appeal to a family audience.
LAC: You’re also on the boards of LACMA and The Center for Early Education. Tell us a little bit about those interests.
BK: I have always been interested in art, and this is a particularly exciting time in LACMA’s history with [CEO and director] Michael Govan expanding the museum in new directions. The Center for Early Education is one of the premier elementary schools in the country. Helping to ensure both places have the resources to serve Los Angeles is important to my family and me.