The mid-2000s marked a notable time in gaming history. At the time, it wasn't RPGs, shooters or even action games that had many fired up; in fact, the genre that had many people hooked was the "music genre," where players could use various instrument-shaped controllers to play along with their favorite songs.
It's easy to see why the genre rose to popularity so quickly, too: people with no musical talent could pretend they were rock stars by jamming out to their favorite songs with their friends.
However, just as quickly as the genre rose in popularity, it fell into anonymity with oversaturation being one of the biggest culprits. For example, the Guitar Hero series had four major North American releases between 2005 and 2008, however, between 2008 and 2011, that number more than quadrupled with 13 total releases. Conversely, its "rival franchise," Rock Band, had only four titles, but the market was so saturated by the genre by 2009 that it didn't make much difference.
Still, both series lingered, releasing titles since then in a bid to turn everything around and revitalize the music genre. However, things didn't go quite as planned. While there is no word from Activision about Guitar Hero Live, Mad Catz, co-publisher of Rock Band 4, is reporting staggering losses incurred by the game.
How bad, you ask? The Rock Band 4 distributor and plastic instrument maker recorded an $11.6 million loss for the past financial year. To be fair, in terms of revenue, fiscal 2016 was actually positive, showing a 55 percent increase. However, Rock Band 4's performance had its greatest impact on Mad Catz's bottom line, where last year's profit of $4.7 million turned into the aforementioned $11.6 million loss — representing a negative swing of 345 percent.
To add insult to injury, the vast amount of attention and money pooled into Rock Band 4 caused profits in other areas of its business to lower, making a mockery of all Mad Catz and Harmonix's previous efforts. For example, Harmonix raised $15 million in equity funding one month ahead of its October release.
Clearly, these high hopes didn't pay off, and it was clear they wouldn't for months now. Mad Catz incurred $6.8 million in charges for inventory write-downs, material authorizations and price reductions with retailers in the last quarter of the fiscal year. Additionally, in February of this year, 37 percent of the company's staff was cut in a bid to save $5 million over the next year after it was clear Rock Band 4 wasn't going to perform as well as planned.
Unfortunately for Mad Catz, its problems don't end there. It has 120 days to sell $8.3 million worth of Rock Band merchandise, and it's unclear what will happen if it fails to do so.