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Music Media The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Guitar Hero III the First Game to $1 Billion In Sales 106

The Opposable Thumbs blog reports that Guitar Hero III has reached a financial milestone, becoming the first individual video game to reach $1 billion in total sales. The number is even higher if you consider the rest of the franchise. In addition to helping drive the video game industry during tough economic times (much like the Wii), it's helping other industries as well: "... aside from the fact that Guitar Hero: Aerosmith had sold three times as many copies as the band's last album during their respective first weeks, musicians whose music is featured in the game has seen a rise in music sales to the tune of 15-843 percent." And CVG notes, "... two-thirds of non-musicians exposed to music games plan to start playing a real instrument in the next couple of years." Also, Rock Band creator Harmonix may be looking into a partnership with the record labels to sell music for use outside of the games.
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Guitar Hero III the First Game to $1 Billion In Sales

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  • by Loibisch ( 964797 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:57AM (#26430935)

    "Guitar Hero III the First Game to $1 Billion In Sales"
    from the this-sentence-no-verb dept.

    • by Roland Piquepaille ( 780675 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:58AM (#26430951)

      It's an article on an air guitar, why wouldn't they use an air verb? I think it's perfectly fitting.

      • by Creepy ( 93888 )

        that or there is a need for reverb... who knows if the 'is' was in the poster's thoughts?

    • It's a variable, you dummy. Just substitute it with whatever fits, e.g.:
      "Guitar Hero III the First Game to want Billion In Sales"
      from the this-verb-no-sense dept.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jayhawk88 ( 160512 )

      I don't see what you're griping about, it's perfectly cromulent grammar.

  • I just traded it in for another game cause I thought it sucked compared to GH 1 & 2.

    • by sakari ( 194257 )

      Yeah .. GH3 sucks comparing to GH2. Harmonix just has a thing for making better songs to be played with toy guitars.

      Comparing Rock Band and GH: World Tour you can see the same thing .. the songs in World Tour are full of wanking and repeating the same impossible finger patterns, as in Rock Band they are easier and more enjoyable to play.

      I also sold my GH3 to a friend. Good riddance.

      • by iainl ( 136759 )

        I (possibly like quite a few others in the last year) bought it because the bundle of wireless guitar and game cost me less than the wired Rock Band guitar.

        Which is the game it most gets used with - GH3 has too many songs I don't like, and a completely messed up difficulty curve where Medium of the last song is far too easy in comparison to Hard of the first, so you can't step up the challenge smoothly.

        • I would argue Rock Band 2's Medium - Hard curve is fairly steep as well.
  • But it's not really just a game, is it? People are paying a premium price because they need the controllers for it as well. And where's Halo 3 on that list? After all, it sold for 300 million [informationweek.com] in just one week.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      People are paying a premium price because they need the controllers for it as well.

      But then people are paying a premium price for PC games because they need extra copies to run on other computers on the LAN. Unlike multiplayer console games, most multiplayer PC games don't have a mode that splits or otherwise shares the screen for use on a home theater PC. And unlike the original StarCraft and numerous DS games, most new PC games don't support "spawned" copies using the same serial number as a host copy. So if you and others in your home want to play the game, you have to buy multiple cop

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Anyone want to help me set the record? I have a game here that I'll sell to any interested parties for $1.1 billion, any two interested parties for $0.55 billion. any three interested parties for...

    • Actually X-play mentioned this last night. The numbers are skewed by expensive peripherals, multi-platform release, and DLC.
      • I think we're all well aware of that, doesn't mean that the game as a whole didn't sell $1 billion total. And since when should a multi-platform release mean sales numbers are worthless?

        • The multiplatform thing can be huge if you consider that Halo 3 is single platform and sold a third of that level in its first week.
      • If you're allowed to include all other games in the franchise, I think Guitar Hero gets quite handily beaten by any number of long-running megahit series.
      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

        So if DLC is included the monthly fees for MMOs should be counted as well, right?

    • Umm, your link shows an article that says it sold $170-million in a day. So, maybe it sold $300-million for the week, but certainly not 300-million-units. Needless to say, both dollar-amounts are clearly far less than 1 billion DOLLARS.

    • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
      Yeah, this isn't a list. I don't know how Halo 3 stacks up other than "not $1,000,000,000." For what it's worth, Guitar Hero III is also not hampered by the single console or lack of universal appeal that are the weak points of Halo 3. Halo 3 has admittedly done a better job of sales given what they have to work with but that's not at all what the article is about. Given that Activision is getting a $10-$15 premium over the typical $60 current gen game for including a guitar-shaped Simon board only make
    • Re:Not just a game (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Artraze ( 600366 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:49AM (#26432949)

      Everyone seems fond of pointing this out, along with listing a bunch of other games that sold more copies. The thing is, however, that that isn't the point. Cheaper games _should_ sell more because of where they hit the demand curve. The point is that despite requiring somewhat pricey peripherals it still sold enough copies to reach $1 billion, and that's impressive. It's even more so when you consider that many people are buying this over 2 other games (due to increased price); that's why using total revenue is actually a useful benchmark.

      Finally, I would point out that since guitars from previous versions work with III, a large percentage of people only needed to buy the software, not the bundle. So if you don't believe the above, than realize that 60% or so of those sales are at the standard game price.

    • by Valdrax ( 32670 )

      And where's Halo 3 on that list? After all, it sold for 300 million in just one week.

      A) It's not a list.
      B) What exactly is the curve for sales over the life of a game. Just how much Halo 3 sell after the first week or the first month? I'll bet cash money that the first week's sales weren't sustained.

  • This record is hard to believe. They give the monetary value of the sales like in the film industry whereas in the game industry companies are more inclined to provide the number of units sold, making it difficult to figure their actual revenue per title. Oblivious of the exact numbers of the competition, it's easy then to claim they broke a record.

    According to Wikipedia, which links to a Reuters article, the worldwide number of sales would be of above 8 million. Some games have sold much more than this (Po

    • Profit is hard to calculate, but sales revenue isn't. If the claim on wikipedia is 8 million unit sales globally (which could be out of date, I didn't verify it, but we'll start there), and assuming a 50% split between USD$60 game and $100 game+guitar, we get about $640 million in sales. Not far from a billion, and international sales, DLC, additional guitars, more recent sales figures and a split weighed more to guitar packs could bring it closer the $billion mark.

  • Interesting fact - because of the guitar controller it comes bundled with, the regular sale price of GH3 is DOUBLE that of any other regular game (like Gears of War, GTA4, Resistance 2 and so on). Factor in purchased downloadable music tracks, and suddenly GH3 may not have sold as many copies as this article seems to imply. This higher purchase price and nearly endless source of added income suddenly makes it pretty easy to hit the billion dollar mark as opposed to say, Halo 3 or Little Big Planet (with nea
  • Impressive because I thought Guitar Hero 2 was actually the worst of the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games that I've played, although I'd imagine Metallica/Aerosmith etc. could be worse but I haven't played them.

    Guitar Hero 2 and Rock Band had far better track lists imo, and Rock Band specifically had more interesting and fun features. Guitar Hero 3 felt like it was just released to profit off the success of 2 until they'd had time to build a new version that actually did have new features (i.e. World Tour), it d

    • You enjoyed Guitar Hero 2 and Rock Band more because they were made by the same developer, Harmonix. Also the creators of Frequency and Amplitude, music games early on in the PS2 lifecycle.

      You probably liked the guitar better from Guitar Hero 3 than Rock Band because it was still created by the core Red Octane team, who had experience making the Guitar Hero 1 and 2 guitars with Harmonix.

    • One every 3 - 4 months all with DLC that sometimes overlaps but can't be used between versions (although they are rectifying that somewhat in newer versions)? Seems a bit much, but then I guess with these kind of profits, who can blame them?

      Each and every piece of DLC for Rock Band carries directly over to Rock Band 2 - if you have Rock Band, downloaded a bunch of songs, then go buy RB2, the first time you pop the RB2 disc in, the downloaded songs are available to play.

      Further, for five bucks, you can expor

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      The first sentence was supposed to read Guitar Hero 3 as my worst not Guitar Hero 2!

  • by AdamWeeden ( 678591 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:23AM (#26431579) Homepage
    I can definitely speak to Guitar Hero inspiring musicianship and boosting sales of real guitar equipment. Since playing Guitar Hero for the first time, less than a year ago, I have purchased 2 guitars, 2 amps, a plethora of accessories and quite a bit in instruction. I've been playing now for about 6 months and love every minute of it, even practice. Not as easy as Guitar Hero is (obviously), but so much more rewarding when you learn a new lick on a real guitar than when you perfect a song on GH, IMHO.
  • 8 million people paying who knows how much a month for how many years might = a bit more.
    • My first thought was WoW as well. How the hell could any game beat WoW with so many people paying every single month. I don't believe for a second that GH has beaten it. Then again, if we are talking just console games... I don't think WoW is avail on console is it? I've never played it so I dunno... just know that I'm in the minority as it seems to be the most popular game there is.
    • FYI, they're at 11.5 million these days. ;)
  • I call foul (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LightningTH ( 151451 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:10AM (#26432255)

    Someone correct my numbers if I'm wrong but Wii Fit has roughly 13.9m sales total at a cost of about $90 per game plus balance board so $1.2b. I'll ignore Wii Sports as it comes with every Wii. If Guitar Hero is being measured to include the hardware addons, I'm only seeing roughly 4.2m across the Wii, 360, and PS3 total. That means $238 per sale of Guitar Hero. These numbers are based off of vgchartz's website for total sales (seen on the expanded weekly chart).

    If they want to include hardware with a game then maybe all Wii purchases were actually to purchase Wii Sports to a tune of 40.9m sales at $250 a sale so $10.2b.

    • by Robyrt ( 1305217 )
      You forgot the PS2, which has the installed base of the Wii, 360 and PS3 combined, and comes with a $10 discount over the "newer" console versions.
  • I remember awhile back there was a guitar game coming that was set to use a real guitar (pitch/tone matching?) rather than a plastic "air guitar." I'm wondering when that will come out, and how it will compare to Guitar Hero or Rock Band sales-wise. I've heard before that being able to play the drums in RB expert mode is nearly the same as being able to do so with the real thing, and it would be cool to see a game that sells well while at the same time being educational and entertaining.

    • by Abreu ( 173023 )

      Search for the "Fretlight" a real guitar with leds in the fretboard and instructional software.

      Dunno if they have developed a game for it, but I guess it would be fairly easy to do so...

    • by jae471 ( 1102461 )
      If you can play drums in RB2 with the 3-cymbal kit on Hard (not even Expert), you can play well enough on a real kit to have fun with friends in a jam session and not sound stupid. The real trick is learning when "Yellow/Blue/Green" means Hi-Hat/Ride/Crash cymbal versus high/low/floor tom, and when "Red+Yellow" mean flam on snare and not Hi-Hat+Snare. All-in-all, you can go into the freestyle training in RB2 and just play drums along with any recording you like (But again, the cymbal expansion kit is a mu
    • You are probably thinking of Guitar Rising. The demo video looks wicked but it smells like vaporware right now.

      http://www.guitarrising.com/index.html [guitarrising.com]

      But there is a similar game coming out by Disney that will most likely actually be released (summer of 2009). Since it's from Disney I dont think there will be any Slipknot and Slayer songs.

      http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/01/finally-a-guita.html [wired.com]

  • Plans? Only plans? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattbee ( 17533 ) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:50AM (#26432963) Homepage

    "... two-thirds of non-musicians exposed to music games plan to start playing a real instrument in the next couple of years"

    Uh, yeah, and I am planning to have a brick barbequeue, jacuzzi, fake beach and year-round soft fruit crops on my allotment in the next couple of years.

    I'll be pleased if I actually get rid of all the weeds :)

  • by $lingBlade ( 249591 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:02PM (#26434189)

    As a real guitar player (playing for 16 years) I think it's great that the game inspires people to pick up the instrument (or any instrument for that matter) in the real world.

    However, what I've noticed is that people assume because you can play real guitar, that you should RIP at Guitar Hero. In my case, nothing could be further from the truth. As a guitar player you're used to certain things. Throw in a game controller and it's mechanics and while at face value it looks similar, it just isn't.

    I think a lot of people that pick up the guitar and try to learn on it (aside from the guy above who seems like he's enjoying it), will find that there's a VERY steep learning curve. It's hard, it takes a LOT of practice and perserverence. It's an instrument that you get "out" of it, what you put "into" it. Like anything else.

    All I know is that I think a lot of these people that "plan" on trying to learn the instrument for real will be wholly disappointed at their progress when they're not playing Crazy Train or Sweet Child O' Mine after day 2.

    • However, what I've noticed is that people assume because you can play real guitar, that you should RIP at Guitar Hero. In my case, nothing could be further from the truth.

      Well said.

      I had two friends. One was a top racer in arcade cars (specifically Daytona). The other was a hobbyist racer in real cars. Turned out both of them couldn't do well in each other's fields.

    • by Abreu ( 173023 )

      I have played bass and guitar for 15 years and, while I don't exactly "rip" on RockBand (yet), I have a lot of fun.

      However, I think these games are a worthwhile "introduction to music" course.

      One of the first things newbie musicians have to learn is accurate timing and coordination, which is the whole idea of these games

    • GH = Sight Reading (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Manfesto ( 865869 )
      I'm really good at Guitar Hero - not the best, but the best of my circle of friends. Beat every song on expert on Guitar Hero III except "Through the Fire and Flames" and the Devil battle.

      I also have eight years of guitar playing (mostly original compositions in a few indie rock and punk bands) and six years of violin/fiddle from when I was younger (classical ensembles and quartets).

      Interestingly, I think that I use what I learned from violin playing more when I play GH. That's because you know what
      • Sight reading is exactly what it is.

        And you know what? Add a sixth line, change the bars/circles to numbers, and you've got a kick-ass tab scroller.

    • by Lars512 ( 957723 )
      What would be really interesting is if they migrate to a setup where you plug a real guitar in, and then enjoy a game like Guitar Hero. The game would be harder, but much more rewarding. Likewise for bass guitar, drums, or other instruments. That would be the logical next step.
  • I wish that they would take the time to actually make this game a learning tool. The potential is there just not the effort on the programming side.

    As a game it is lots of fun. From a guitarists stand point, it would be better it they took the time to get actual song/midi data and used it to teach the muscle memory the right things.

  • Okay, so maybe it's the first to make a billion in sales. But World of Warcraft has over 10 million subscribers at $15/month each. I compute that as $1.8 billion dollars a year. Even if we assume that those figures are somehow inflated, I think it's safe to figure that WoW has brought in a lot more money for its owner than Guitar Hero.

  • "... two-thirds of non-musicians exposed to music games plan to start playing a real instrument in the next couple of years."

    Yeah and 100% of me and my friends who watched Space Camp planned to become astronauts.

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.