'Call of Duty' game maker shoots down 'Guitar Hero'

NEW YORK --- These days, guns are more popular than guitars, at least when it comes to video games. The company behind Guitar Hero said Wednesday that it is pulling the plug on one of the most influential video game titles of the new century.


Activision Blizzard Inc., which also produces the Call of Duty series, is ending the Guitar Hero franchise after a run of more than five years. The move follows Viacom Inc.'s decision in November to sell its money-losing unit behind the Rock Band video games.

Harmonix was sold to an investment firm for an undisclosed sum. Harmonix was behind the first Guitar Hero game.

Game industry analysts have long lamented the "weakness in the music genre," as they call it -- that is, the inability of game makers to drum up demand for the products after an initial surge in popularity in the mid-2000s.

Activision did better than expected in the fourth quarter, which ended in December, but that was anticipated. After all, it launched Call of Duty: Black Ops in November. That game, which is mostly set during the Vietnam War, made $1 billion after just six weeks in stores. Its latest World of Warcraft game has also been doing well.

Activision said Wednesday it lost $233 million, or 20 cents per share, in the latest quarter. Net revenue fell to $1.43 billion from $1.56 billion.