Rock Band drags down Viacom earnings, scores No Doubt album

Media multinational reports worldwide ancillary revenues declined 7 percent due to slowing sales of rhythm game series; Tragic Kingdom to be available next week as DLC.

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The past year has shown that rhythm game sales are slowing, and the Rock Band series is no exception. Viacom, the media multinational that owns the music-game series' publisher MTV Games, reported yesterday that worldwide ancillary revenues fell 7 percent "reflecting lower sales of Rock Band music video games."

Rock Band owners can now party like it's 1995.

Viacom did not give exact figures for the Rock Band franchise's decline, but the company has expressed its displeasure in fiduciary form. In February, the company asked the series' developer, Harmonix, to refund a "substantial portion" of $150 million in performance-related payouts given to the Boston-based developer. That month, Viacom blamed declining sales of Rock Band games for a a 6 percent slip in the October-December earnings of its Media Networks division, which includes MTV Games parent MTV Networks.

During the January-March quarter, the Media Networks division saw revenue increase 4 percent to $1.94 billion, thanks to increased ad sales and affiliate fees. Overall for the quarter, Viacom revenues fell 4 percent year-over-year to $2.786 billion, with operating income rising 21 percent to $534 million and net earnings climbing 37 percent to $243 million.

The Rock Band series' current doldrums come just months after The Beatles: Rock Band, boosted Viacom's earnings by selling 1 million units following its September 9, 2009 release. Following last month's launch of the Rock Band Network, the company is hoping to reenergize the series with two offerings this year: Green Day: Rock Band, due out June 8, and Rock Band 3, due out around the holidays. However, it did lay off staff at Harmonix in December to cut costs.

Now, the good news: Next week, No Doubt fans will be able to buy the California ska-pop band's entire 1995 album Tragic Kingdom as a download from the Rock Band Store. All tracks will be original master recordings and will cost $2/160 Microsoft points/200 Wii points per track or $15/MSP1,600/WP1,500 for the entire album. The complete track list is below and will bring the total count of Rock Band tracks available on game discs and on the Rock Band Store to 1,174:

• No Doubt – "Different People"
• No Doubt – "End It on This"
• No Doubt – "Happy Now?"
• No Doubt – "Hey You"
• No Doubt – "Sixteen"
• No Doubt – "The Climb"
• No Doubt – "Tragic Kingdom"
• No Doubt – "World Go ‘Round"
• No Doubt – "You Can Do It"
• Orianthi – "According to You"
• Picture Me Broken – "Dearest (I’m So Sorry)"

Discussion

41 comments
badron11
badron11

@tremor33 I forgot one thing, lady gaga's stuff came out and a TON of people bought it, and love it. I didn't though. I was tempted. Thanks for these messages, and I get/respect your opinions, and I hope that you respect mine as well.

badron11
badron11

@tremor33 I don't see any Britney or Bieber available for download, so you can't purchase it anyway. The point is once again, that it's all there for you if you want it. So is a ton of hardcore metal, alt rock, and many other genres including country. Making your games appeal to everyone is a great idea, and I don't understand your comments of "pop" music flooding the games. Just because songs get radio play doesn't mean they're pop. Sure Pink is pop, and maybe Kings of Leon(which I am sick of as well my friend), but Megadeth, Judas Priest, Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Alice in Chains, All That Remains, and the others are not, and they are the majority of RB at least. To wrap this up finally I will just say this, I'm glad that you are at least playing these games, and I appreciate these talks we've had. My main argument was the DLC primarily, and not just the disc songs, that unfortunately for some people are the only ones they'll ever play due to lack of money or internet. And I do like Pink, because while the songs may be easy as hell on expert, at least they're fun. Plus Pink is hot, and her 2 songs that are available for download(one on lego rock band mind you) are tolerable. Later.

tremor33
tremor33

@badron11 Rock Band does have the better DLC out of the two. I will give them that. But how can you say I am uninformed and my statements have no validity when part of the title of the article is "Rock Band drags down Viacom earnings"? I'm simply offering my opinion on why I do not purchase rhythm games anymore. GH: Metallica was the last game that I actually purchased in the genre and I sold it because I got a good trade in value and wasn't playing it as much as I thought I would. Since then, due to my brothers, I have played through every other RB and Guitar Hero out. I thought RB: Beatles was kind of cool looking, but can't justify a purchase, and lately I haven't been impressed with anything Viacom or Activision have tried to offer me. I speak to those companies with my wallet and if they want my money they'd better change things around. But hey, who am I? If enough people buy music that is crappy imo, companies will see it as profitable and continue to make it. Just because I don't purchase Britney Spears' or Justin Bieber's music doesn't mean they they will go away. Same thing with DLC. Anyway, have fun with the P!nk songs you bought.

badron11
badron11

@tremor33 I think that's funny that you think you're better than me, what's your gamertag? Maybe we'll have to put that to the test. We can play RB2, or GH Metallica. You pick the instrument, since I'm really good at all of them. But, back to the subject. People want to play these songs, just like people want to go out and buy these same pop songs that you are talking about on cd. It's not going to change anytime soon, so deal with it. Also, the top 40 hits songs are mostly GH's fault. Have you ever actually went and looked at all the great DLC that's available for ROCK BAND? Your statements have no validity. And I'm serious about the battle thing. I play these "pop" games all the time, and I doubt someone as uninformed as you, that doesn't even know what they're talking about could keep up. Maybe we'll play all the metal albums/track packs I bought first, then I'll beat you at the Pink songs that I bought just to rub it in a little. Go do some research.

tremor33
tremor33

@badron11 On the contrary. I've been playing rhythm games for years since the first DDR, and loved the first couple of guitar heroes. I've been playing on expert since guitar hero 1 and am probably better than you. I have just found the songs that are put out in the initial discs now are lack-luster compared to the first few forays in the genre and the DLC is mediocre at best. I appreciate SOME of the DLC for it's complexity and musical substance but I feel that most is detrimental to the over all game. Think about it. Why would Led Zeppelin say no to licensing their songs for a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game? because they don't want to be fit into the same mold as some of the lesser known bands. Look, I'm not denying that No Doubt has some catchy songs but I have absolutely no desire to play a rhythm game with them. I also don't feel that, by virtue of being the flavor of the month right now, songs should be automatically included. I'd prefer to play songs that don't get any current radio play. How many times a day to they play Kings of Leon on the radio? Too many. Why would I want to then go home and play them some more. All I am saying is that I don't want to play a game that's basically full of top 40 hits

addictedtochaos
addictedtochaos

Activision is to blame for the decline of the music games, releasing 5 Guitar Hero games in one year was overkill. And for all the people that say "they need Zeppelin" they have tried to get them before but have been told no.

porcupinetree17
porcupinetree17

thats what you get for putting out no doubt every week.

brutallysubtle
brutallysubtle

"Why not go a step further and just put out Chick Band. A game filled with all the tripe that girls love." They did... it's called Band Hero

Mr_Manikin52
Mr_Manikin52

Rock Band: Warped Tour Edition! YEAH, all the *&^%ing Emo/post-hardcore/Screamo bands.

pillazz
pillazz

DLC is crap and consists of old albums, b-sides and live versions. I buy very little (not for the want of trying), it would be good to see some modern DLC from this century!!!

mightEone
mightEone

Never liked fake toy instruments... never will. Not sure if they have these. but my suggestion would be to get some real bands not focus a whole game on Emos like Green Day. Metallic - Jump in the fire, Harvester Of Sorrow, Master Of Puppets. Megadeth - Symphony Of Destruction etc.. Throw in some Pink Floyd for the fun of it. Led Zeppelin, Def Leopard, White Snake, Judas F'n Priest, Alice In Chains...

thetravman
thetravman

More No Doubt? Like there isn't enough already. Put on some more Rush, Tom Petty, Metallica, and for once, give us some Zeppelin.

SolanOcard
SolanOcard

badron11. totally agree. I love me some classic rock. Carry on my wayward son is awe inspiring (I saw the live about 10 years ago, they are so old but the song defies their [and its] age). But I also like modern stuff, although I don't listen to as much as I did in the 90s. Tragic Kingdom is a great album. I love all the older Weezer songs, Presidents of the United States of America, Smashing Pumpkins. the 90s is my golden age of rock (alternative). Rockband especially, manages to cater to a wide audience, and there is something for everyone.

Trogeton
Trogeton

Sweet viacom are a bunch of thieves

protoroc
protoroc

Also expect to see this same headline after Green Day Rock Band...who's failure idea was it to go ahead with that. Why not go a step further and just put out Chick Band. A game filled with all the tripe that girls love.

protoroc
protoroc

I'd blame it on terrible DLC, how about putting out songs people want instead of promoing whatever bullcrap is out now. No 80s hair metal, (Hendrix was appreciated) no classic rock bands. These games were originally intended for the 30 something crowd and the first few rhythm games confirmed this by having a song list that consists of mostly 70-90s stuff. Somewhere down the line they figured out that teens are gullible and will throw what little money they get away on crap since they have no sense of the value of a dollar. Stop trying to attract the casual, hardcores are what is keeping the genre alive buying horrible DLC hoping one day it will get better. Four years+ and not one Whitesnake song (despite their list of popular tunes).

setuwa
setuwa

The reason why I think that this isn't a fad cause ive been playing games for about 15 years. And when it comes to co-op play, there is no comparison. when you have a full expert band playing a tier 6 song thats when the game takes it to a whole another level. I actually sometimes get nervous in the game. Just as long as they keep bringing out good metal in RBN and DLC. Then im gonna continue wasting my money on it.

Byaku524
Byaku524

Oh sweet they're adding Orianthi. Can't wait for that.

okassar
okassar

Music games have always been a fad. I felt uncomfortable wasting my money on my 2nd music game and "new instruments." Forget it. I'm not buying another one for at least a couple years and it has to be really good. They shouldn't put so much effort in the series anymore tbh, just stick to a new release every 2-3 years.

badron11
badron11

@tremor33 um you do know that playing only those "hero" songs would/does get really old after a while right? I love the diversity that Rock Band shows in their great taste of music they put out. Also, Jim Morrison wasn't a guitar hero, and led zeppelin had some pretty bad things to say about putting their music in these kind of games. I think that most people like a little bit of everything. I bought a ton of classic packs for RB, but also love metal, and even some pop music. At least it's there. For most people buying these games isn't for the purpose of being a guitar god, but for interacting with music that they love. Not every song has to be a super hard one. You're probably one of those guys that isn't good at the game aren't you?

SolanOcard
SolanOcard

errrmmmm I thought No doubt had an exclusive deal with Guitar Hero?

ipikisis
ipikisis

I prefer Guitar Hero, but Rock Band is a very good game also

fester420
fester420

Loved Tragic Kingdom. No Doubt was the first band I ever saw live, definite download for me. Personally I don't care what people think about the rhythm genre, because as long as I can enjoy them and still buy them, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

tremor33
tremor33

Maybe instead of pumping out new games and/or blaming consumers for not buying them, Viacom and Activision should take a long hard look at themselves. The first two guitar hero games were great (along with the first rockband) because they depicted songs that were classic (for the most part). flash forward to Guitar Hero 5 (which my brother stupidly purchased) and there is no classic tracks. Who picks up a guitar and want to be a "guitar hero" like the guy from No Doubt? Kings of Leon? Fall Out Boy? Coheed and motherxxxxing Cambria? I'm sorry but when I think "guitar heros" I think of Jimmy Paige, Eric Clapton, Jim Morrison, and other classic guitar heroes. I DO NOT think of popular musicians of today that haven't even stood the test of time or musicians whose music isn't musically complex enough to exemplify any skill whatsoever. Guitar Hero 5 and, to a lesser extent, Rock Band 2 are full of obvious attempts to cash in on a huge fan base by providing the lamest pop music they can provide. Seriously... P!nk? WTF? My prediction: Justin Bieber DLC sometime soon because that's the direction these rhythm games are heading. Now what's the keyboard shortcut for a puking, frowning face?

smbius
smbius

No Doubt's earlier track releases in Rock Band are much better but at least they can give their lesser known ones a chance in the music store. @hiphopballer, @drangel_jam - Green Day Rock Band's tracks are exportable into RB2. RB2 will have an update for multiple vocals as well.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I would be more inclined to buy music for Rock Band (if I owned the titles) if they also came in mp3 format, or any audio format that allowed me to play them anywhere I wanted to. I don't see the logic of releasing a Green Day rock band game, instead of a Green Day DLC, especially since Rock Band 3 is set for release this year.

hiphopballer
hiphopballer

instead of releasing a new rockband or guitar hero every year why dont they just stick to DLC. i find it stupid to have a game for every band. (even thought the beatles rock band was awesome) but we shouldnt be getting lego rockband. it would be better for like a mod.

vgbum
vgbum

Paying for songs that I bought 15 years ago seems wrong to me..

solidusScott
solidusScott

@ reddragon7198 I can count how many Rock Band games there are. There are 5 (soon to be 7) games since 2007. Now compare that to Guitar Heros 12 and counting games since Actiturd took over the series.

solidusScott
solidusScott

It looks like the music game genre is falling back to a niche genre. I still love Rock Band though.

Snicker-Man
Snicker-Man

i so want to play no doubt hey you and orianthi according to you

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

not surprised considering how many rockbands and guitar hero and other games like it are on the market. heck even nintendo tried to sneak with wii music and we all know how that turn out.

hiphops_savior
hiphops_savior

Is it really Harmonix's fault when there have been more Guitar Hero games in 2009 than there have been Rock Band games? At least Harmonix puts new songs online as DLC, where people can choose which song they want to play rather than being forced to take a bunch of bad songs along with the ones they really want to play. If you want to find someone to blame, blame Activision for over saturating the rhythm genre, just like how they're over saturating the FPS market by releasing COD every year.

cajunstrike
cajunstrike

One should have been wary when The Beatles: Rock Band sales were purported to be 'strong', but no actual sales numbers were given.

reddragon7198
reddragon7198

This is there own fault. The reason the sales are declining is because they are over saturating the market with these types of games. I cannot even count how many Rock Bands, Guitar Heroes, DJ Heroes, whatever-the-hell Heroes there are anymore. I mean jeez, don't we have enough?!

Land-0-Funk
Land-0-Funk

"the company is hoping to reenergize the series with two offerings this year" Uh huh..Good luck with that.

galerian86
galerian86

I never understand this part of economics. How can something dragged down the profit, when the profit isn't there to begin with?

ml_paladin888
ml_paladin888

hmm..at least on the xbox...its cheaper to buy the no doubt album individually? 160 X 9 = 1440 which is less than 1600

weisguy119
weisguy119

You had a good run Harmonix. However, it's time to face the music: the rhythm genre is all but dead.