Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock sells under 100,000

Rhythm game debut strikes sour note, underscores slide for both franchise and genre.

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In September, gamers answered the age-old question of "Are you ready to rock?" Judging by US sales figures from the month, the answer was an apathetic shrug of the shoulders.

The stage is abuzz, but is anybody in the audience?

The industry-tracking NPD Group yesterday released sales data for the month of September, revealing that the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 versions of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock sold fewer than 100,000 copies combined. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter had projected the game to sell 100,000 copies earlier this week.

"September music genre sales declined to $16 million from $116 million a year ago, facing tough comps from the launch of Beatles Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 last September," Pachter said in a note to investors today. "Year-to-date music genre sales are only $158 million, compared to $506 million for the first nine months of 2009, accounting for over three-quarters of the total industry decline so far this year."

Last year, Guitar Hero 5 sold 499,000 copies in its debut month, despite being part of a saturated slate of seven Guitar Hero games to hit stores that year; Warriors of Rock and DJ Hero 2 are the only games in the franchise hitting shelves this year.

In 2008, the US rhythm game genre pulled in $1.66 billion in retail sales. Last year, it plummeted to $876 million. That $780 million shortfall accounted for the majority of the overall industry's slide for the year. Combined PC, console, and handheld software sales for 2009 were down roughly $1.2 billion for the year to $10.5 billion, according to NPD figures.

Fortunately, the flagging genre's hopes aren't entirely hinging on the performance of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Activision's DJ Hero 2 will be released next week, with MTV Games' Rock Band 3 hitting shelves the week after that.

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