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Guitar Hero goes all Web 2.0 with new CEO

By on March 24, 2009

Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but Activision has appointed the former COO of Yahoo to head up the Guitar Hero division.

Dan Rosensweig is a heavyweight new media guy, with a key role in creating ZDNet and merging with CNET, as well as his stint at Yahoo. For the last two years, he has been “an operating principal at Quadrangle Group, a private investment firm, where he focused on the firm’s media and communications private equity business.”

I think that this is significant for a bunch of reasons:

  • Rosensweig is an Internet guy through and through. He gets building traffic, monetizing sites, the whole web thing
  • He’s decided that there is more money/a better career path/more personal interest in a corporate than as a VC or entrepreneur (although PaidContent.org suggests that Quadrangle’s media activities have not been that exciting recently)
  • As a very senior guy, he’s still happy to be joining a company and reporting to Bobby Kotick, when a CEO role of a public company may well have been open to him

Mike Griffiths, CEO of Activision Publishing and Rosensweig’s new boss, is quoted as saying:

Dan’s deep understanding of how consumers can be entertained online will be invaluable as we continue to build Guitar Hero’s complementary growth channels, further establish the franchise as an innovative music platform and develop relationships with new business partners.

To my mind, the strategic implication is clear: the future of Guitar Hero is online.

Obviously, the franchise has been going this way for a while. Bobby Kotick is quoted as saying “The ability to offer these [Guitar Hero] songs on a subscription basis may very well result in the newest subscription opportunity in our portfolio”, while the downloadable content is not exactly new.

But this appointment says to me that Activision intends to make Guitar Hero a major, probably subscription-driven, online business to do for casual-gaming what World of Warcraft did for MMOs.

If Rosensweig can pull it off, he’ll be worth every cent.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com