Guitar Hero is well past its prime and it’s unclear if Activision will bring the franchise back, but the brothers behind the game at RedOctane, Charles and Kai Huang, have learned a lot from the trials and tribulations of launching a mega blockbuster in this industry.
Explained Kai, “We almost went out of business three times from the beginning to when we were acquired. The first two times we said we’re never going to let this happen again, and of course it happened again. The last time was right in the middle of launching Guitar Hero. We decided we were going to launch originally with 50,000 units for that holiday season. It was 2005. We ended up signing a deal with MTV, for marketing, and when we did that we decided to bump our hardware production up to 150,000 units, which was huge for us. Very expensive. Just the hardware investment alone and the cost of goods was $3 million for a company that was doing a total of $6 million. We had tripled our production forecast, so we pretty much ran out of money. We went out to VCs and we tried to raise money and we couldn’t, and that was when Charles and I decided to mortgage our houses and borrowed as much money as we could. On top of that, we had to borrow another half a million dollars from a family friend, who happened to have the money lying around because they were remodeling their house. We used all of that to launch Guitar Hero.”
Kai also revealed that his next project will involve “figuring out ways to get people healthier — more active and fit, ultimately leading them to a healthier lifestyle by leveraging gaming some how.”