With the music genre on the decline of late, MTV Games and Activision brought out the big guns for their hopeful holiday hits in September. MTV tapped the single biggest act in the history of rock for The Beatles: Rock Band, while Activision sweetened the deal for Guitar Hero 5 customers by giving away copies of the forthcoming Guitar Hero: Van Halen.
The push appears to have worked, as Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter and Electronic Entertainment Design and Research's Jesse Divnich both projected big numbers for the pair in their September sales predictions.
When the industry-tracking NPD Group reveals its September US retail sales figures next week, Pachter expects The Beatles: Rock Band to have racked up 1.3 million sales across all versions, with Guitar Hero 5 moving 700,000 copies. He also expects the MTV Games title to have driven sales of last year's Rock Band 2 full band kit, as the primary Beatles-branded game-and-instruments bundles carried a steep premium price.
Divnich agrees that The Beatles sold more games than Guitar Hero 5, but expects a much narrower gap between the two. He projected The Beatles: Rock Band to hit 1 million copies sold for the month, with Guitar Hero 5 tallying 800,000.
Those numbers might come as a shock to Dan Rosensweig, president and CEO of Activision's Guitar Hero division, RedOctane. In mid-September, the former Yahoo! COO told the Financial Times that Guitar Hero 5 was outselling The Beatles: Rock Band by a 4:1 ratio in the US, and as much as 9:1 in "other markets."
"While many want to paint a David vs. Goliath scenario (MTV Games vs. Activision), EEDAR feels that scenario presents an unfair comparison and suggests that one must be 'victorious' over the other," Divnich wrote in a note to investors. "That is certainly not the case, as both Guitar Hero 5 and Beatles: Rock Band have both performed at levels ahead of retail expectations."
Divnich noted that music genre revenues have been down nearly 50 percent year-to-date, but said the late push from Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band could reduce that shortfall to 10-15 percent by year's end.