Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock set a record in 2009, when it became the first multiplatform console title to generate more than $1 billion in revenue. However, it appears as if $20 million of that nine-figure sum may be diverted out of Activision's coffers, as the game is now the target of a high-profile lawsuit.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose has sued Activision for its use of the virtual likeness of Saul Hudson (better known as the top-hat-donning axe legend Slash) in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
In the court documents (available online from Radar Online), Rose alleges that Activision convinced him to lend "Welcome to the Jungle" to Guitar Hero III on the grounds that the game would not feature Slash's likeness or the guitarist's follow-up group, Velvet Revolver.
Slash was featured heavily in Guitar Hero III. He graced the game's cover and was a playable character in the game. Further, songs from Velvet Revolver ("She Builds Quick Machines," "Slither," and "Messages") were made available to gamers as downloadable content following the game's release.
"[Activision] began spinning a web of lies and deception to conceal its true intentions to not only feature Slash and [Velvet Revolver] prominently in GH III but also promote the game by emphasizing and reinforcing an association between Slash and Guns N' Roses and the band's song 'Welcome to the Jungle,'" the statement reads.
In addition, Rose claims that "Sweet Child O' Mine," which was used to market Guitar Hero III, was only authorized for the title's predecessor, Guitar Hero II, and he is seeking reparations for that alleged transgression.
Rose isn't the first noted musician to sue Activision for rights violations in the Guitar Hero series. Last year, Kurt Cobain's bereaved wife Courtney Love sued the publisher over the Nirvana singer's virtual likeness in Band Hero.
For more on the title, check out GameSpot's review of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.