If you bought Guitar Hero Live in the US between December 1st, 2017 and January 1st, 2019, publisher Activision is offering to refund your money. The company launched a “voluntary refund program” earlier in February, around two months after it cut off access to the vast majority of Guitar Hero Live’s song library. Buyers have until May 1st to submit a claim, preferably with either a sales receipt or a credit card statement confirming the purchase.
As Polygon notes, Activision launched this program soon after a lawsuit over false Guitar Hero Live advertising was dismissed. It doesn’t give an official reason for the refunds, but they’re almost certainly related to Activision shutting down Guitar Hero TV: Guitar Hero Live’s unique Spotify-style alternative to downloadable songs.
Guitar Hero TV supplemented the 42 base songs in Guitar Hero Live, which was originally released in 2015, with nearly 500 additional streaming tracks. But Activision announced last summer that it was shutting the service down on December 1st of 2018, leaving users unable to access any of that music.
A buyer named Robert Fishel attempted to file a class-action lawsuit in response, arguing that he “reasonably expected” Activision to keep the catalog online when he bought the game. According to Ars Technica, Fishel actually bought the game before Activision’s cutoff date, so he’s not eligible for this refund program. But his suit was dismissed without prejudice, which means it’s possible he could file again.
The Guitar Hero TV shutdown illustrates the risks of moving video games to a streaming, online-only model. It was originally a central feature of Guitar Hero Live, and an attempt to reinvigorate the flagging rhythm game series. Instead of letting users buy tracks — the standard model for Guitar Hero and competing series Rock Band — it offered free rotating playlists and temporary rental options. As our reviewer Chris Plante noted at the time, that made it tougher for hardcore players to obsessively learn individual songs, but easier for casual players to access a wide range of music.
Unfortunately, it also made Guitar Hero Live extremely dependent on Activision’s support. The game didn’t sell as well as expected — so it’s not too surprising that its song library would go offline after a few years.