Liam Robertson, associated with the Unseen64 website, uploaded a new video uncovering a cancelled MMO project from Activison’s Guitar Hero. It’s worth a watch for the direct footage and gameplay, but I’ve taken the liberty of summing up the key points.
When work began on DJ Hero 3, the development team was at the mercy of Activision when pitching ideas. Constant rejections for the new game’s overall direction led to the MMO idea taking shape. The cancelled MMO was called Hero World, and it was initially intended to capitalize on the Facebook social games trend of the time.
Having little experience in the genre, the Hero World project went to a company called Virtual Fairground. They built an MMO called Club Galactik based on a TV series called Galactik Football, and along the way they built an engine called “The Ride” that was capable of implementation for Hero World.
The story of Hero World was going to be about the player building up a nightclub venue of their own. They would hire players from the Hero console games to perform shows via the internet, earning more money the better of a show they had. In-game money for console players would have larger rewards for doing so, in return allowing them to build up their own Hero World venue and buying more items in the console games. Cross platform capability was a big focus. No matter what console you had, it was intended to have everyone play together in the MMO.
Being more than a connector, there were plans to have substantial Hero World gameplay content of its own. High income allowed you to take over the map and expand the business to different places. There would be an enemy gang that stood in your way, and you’d have to beat them in a dance-off to drive them away. The ideas expanded even further with plans to allow independent music publishing to the Hero World service.
Virtual Fairground was successful in their original pitch to Activision, and they were able to build prototypes of the overworld and battle system. Towards the end of project development, personalization of the venues had been added in, and a fairly complete room editor was shown to be functional. Hero World was going to be free to play, but cosmetic items could be bought for real money. Sponsorship deals were seen as the main revenue stream, which in Hero World would end up being special branded items that players could use in their club.
It was a lot of work for five months, lasting between Fall 2010 and the start of 2011. Unfortunately, Activision cancelled ALL Hero projects in development at the time due to sales numbers. Releasing nine different titles in just a few years led to a decline in interest for the franchise. Money mismanagement and project delays became too much to handle as well.