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Reason to fret: Guitar Hero is no more

Activision says it's dissolving the business unit behind the once-popular music game, and not many are surprised.

RIP indeed, Guitar Hero. RIP indeed. Matt Hickey/CNET

Like a great band breaking up, Guitar Hero is no more. Activision, the company behind the once-popular series of games, said today in a quarterly earnings statement that it's pulling the plug on the franchise.

The series, which has been around for six years, hasn't been profitable lately. About two years ago, the franchise had racked up more than $2 billion in sales from its various installments. But sales plummeted to the point that the latest installment in the series, Warriors of Rock, sold fewer than 100,000 copies during its debut month last September. Part of the reason is competition from a new generation of games that don't need specialized controllers, especially those for the PS3's Move and the Xbox 360's Kinect.

The brand has had many iterations, including "World Tour," which featured many notable musicians as playable characters, and mobile versions for iOS devices and Nintendo's DS series of handhelds. The game's popularity paved the way for bigger games like Rock Band, which have likely also played a role in Guitar Hero's decreased sales.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Amanda Caparoon, a Seattle bartender and music gaming fan, when told Activision was burying the brand. "There's cooler stuff now, like Rock Band. And dance-based games are where it's at now."

In a statement today, Activision said, "Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing's Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011." The statement goes on to say, "These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world's best interactive entertainment experiences."

That would likely be a reference to Activision's very popular World of Warcraft and Call of Duty series.

But Guitar Hero fans don't have to worry about new content. Though it's disbanding the business unit and stopping development of new games, Activision will continue to develop and make available new downloadable content, such as new songs, for some time according to GamePro. But nobody is sure for how long.

Tor Thorsen of GameSpot contributed to this report.