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Guitar Hero 5: It's "good value for money"

Franchise boss Michael Sportouch defends peripheral price points for company's music games

The head of Activision's Guitar Hero franchise, Michael Sportouch, has told GamesIndustry.biz that's he's proud of the latest edition of Guitar Hero - Guitar Hero 5, which shot to the top of the UK chart last week - and that he's certain consumers are happy with the value for money that it represents.

At a point when criticism has been levelled at some companies for the price of the plastic peripherals on games that include multiple instruments particularly, Sportouch was clear that it's an issue that Activision always keeps in mind.

"On the question of price, we do a lot of research on Guitar Hero - we've sold 35 million games and we have a very active fanbase," he explained. "With Guitar Hero: World Tour's music studio we've had 250,000 created songs uploaded to our servers, which subsequently generated 17 million downloads.

"So we have active communication with our fanbase and consumers. What's the motivation behind buying Guitar Hero? Firstly it's the music selection, and secondly that it's an easy, social and fun gameplay experience.

"When we think about the pricing of our products it's about value for money for the consumer - we think today we didn't have a negative reaction from the consumer on our price, and our value for money.

"So it's not just about what the consumer price is, it's about what represents value for money - how many hours of entertainment are we delivering? And so far our audience has reacted very well."

He also explained that European price points were not set by anchoring them to US Dollar equivalents, but based on that concept of value for money.

"We don't work in US Dollar equivalents - I don't want to go into the details, but there are many reasons for that," he said. "Our P&L (profit and loss) is not always aligned with what the US is doing - even though there is communication, it's a decision that's made here.

"If I take DJ Hero we've got 90 unique mixes that you'll never find elsewhere, but they're coming from different artists that are exclusive to DJ Hero - so even if you were buying the song individually on iTunes, for example, even without the peripheral it would cost you USD 90, or Euro equivalent.

"When you add the peripheral to that, we're delivering an interactive experience. It's not only about listening to the music, you play with it - you create with it. We feel that we're giving the right value for money, but please be sure that we're always challenging ourselves on whether it's the right pricing, the right value for money, and are we delivering enough content?

"But we'll always be extremely careful on the value for money," he added.

The full interview with Michael Sportouch is available now.

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