The music game genre experienced a much-needed lift in September on the backs of new releases The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5.
MTV's Beatles videogame, released September 9, won the battle with total unit sales of 595,000, according to the NPD Group, making it the third-best selling game of the month overall behind Halo 3: ODST and Madden NFL 10. Activision's Guitar Hero 5, released September 1, ranked fourth overall for the month with 499,000 in sales.
Both totals are on par with that of first-month sales for the flagship music offerings from both companies last year. Activision's Guitar Hero World Tour had first-month sales of 534,000 units last year, while Rock Band 2 sold just over 238,000 copies its first month.
From a revenue standpoint, the Beatles game raked in the second-best totals for the month, driven primarily by the fact that the average game sold for 130 percent more than other games. This was due to the many versions of the game that sold with more expensive custom controllers, such as the $250 premium edition that included replica versions of the Fab Four's instruments. Neither NPD Group or MTV would release specific figures on bundle sales.
Combined, however, both The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 drove a 72 percent increase in revenue for the music game genre over September 2008. From both a revenue and unit sales standpoint, the results represent good news for a music industry with vested interest in the continued popularity of the music game genre.
Year-over-year revenue for the genre had fallen 46 percent this year through August, sparking speculation that the category was a passing fad. But that decline was likely more a function of fewer and cheaper music games hitting the market this year, compared with 2008, until September's dual high-profile releases.