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Buy Guitar Hero Live? You might get a refund.

Activision offering money back following wipeout of song library

guitar hero live FreeStyleGames/Activision
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Activision is offering “potential refunds” to some buyers of Guitar Hero Live, whose catalog of streaming songs to play was cut to about 10 percent of its size at the end of 2018 (so, nine times worse than decimated).

The company isn’t giving any reasons why in a tersely worded claims form page, but it’s rather obvious that Activision’s decision to obliterate a library that counted almost 500 songs at its peak, and a resulting lawsuit — dismissed less than two weeks ago — is the culprit. The refunds are only good for those who:

  • Bought Guitar Hero Live in the United States.
  • Bought it between Dec. 1, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2019.
  • File a claim by May 1, 2019.

And whose purchase of the game, subject to the above conditions, “can be confirmed by Activision.” That means providing either a receipt or a credit card statement showing the relevant charge. Those who have neither can still file a claim, and Activision will try to verify whether the purchase is legit. The claim form requires a claimant to provide both an email address and the Gamertag or online ID of the platform where they bought and played Guitar Hero Live.

In June 2018, Activision announced that Guitar Hero TV, the streaming music service for Guitar Hero Live, would close in December, leaving the game with just the 42 songs provided on the disc. Guitar Hero TV had a song catalog of 484 at the time of the announcement.

When it launched in October 2015, Guitar Hero TV took a Spotify/Apple Music approach to catalog management, forsaking the premium DLC model of Rock Band and past Guitar Hero games in favor of a much larger rotation (for a single game) available to players for free. The catch was that the songs would only be available for as long as Activision supported it, and the bell tolled for that in December.

Shortly after this announcement, a Los Angeles man filed a lawsuit against Activision in U.S. District Court, alleging false advertising and seeking class action status. Robert Fishel argued that he bought the game two years after its launch for the discounted price of $22.43 “reasonably expect[ing] that Activision would not subsequently eliminate his ability to use the vast majority” of the songs.

In a motion dated Jan. 22, Fishel voluntarily dismissed his case without prejudice (which means he could choose sue again on the same allegations).

Guitar Hero Live released Oct. 20, 2015, on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It, as well as Rock Band 4 momentarily resuscitated a music gaming genre that had gone into hibernation following 2010’s Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

But a year after Guitar Hero Live’s release, Activision Blizzard fired several workers at UK-based FreeStyleGames, which developed the game, following advice to investors that Guitar Hero Live had sold “lower than expected.”

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