Rock Band goes platinum, song sales top 2.5 million

MTV exec Paul DeGooyer talks about what's selling, downloadable albums, and how the Vivendi-Activision merger will affect access to Universal Music Group artists.

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When Harmonix first announced Rock Band, it made it very clear that the studio would be pouring significant resources into the game's downloadable content. Nearly two months after the game first debuted on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the US, it appears gamers have followed suit.

Harmonix and parent company MTV Games today announced that they have sold more than 2.5 million downloadable songs for the game through the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network. The best-selling download to date is the Metallica pack, which features the original versions of "Ride the Lightning," "Blackened," and "And Justice for All." Combo packs from the Police, Queens of the Stone Age, David Bowie (two covers and one original), and Black Sabbath (three cover songs) follow Metallica on the best-seller list.

As far as individual songs go, Foreigner's "Juke Box Hero" takes the crown, trailed by Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," Weezer's "Buddy Holly," and the Knack's "My Sharona." Of those, only "Buddy Holly" is a performance from the original artist.

Downloadable tracks aren't the only thing going platinum for Rock Band. The industry-tracking NPD Group has confirmed for GameSpot that the rhythm game has sold 1.1 million copies in the US, a figure that includes bundled and stand-alone copies of the game for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PlayStation 2.

To get a little deeper into what trends can be gleaned from the initial volley of Rock Band downloadable content (and to get updates on persisting issues like when stand-alone instruments and downloadable albums will be available), GameSpot spoke with MTV senior vice president of home entertainment, music, and games Paul DeGooyer.

GameSpot: Three of the four most popular individual tracks sold are covers. People are no doubt telling you they want original tracks instead of cover versions, but is the sales data really backing that up at all?

Paul DeGooyer: It's showing us first and foremost that the best product is great gameplay. Of course there are songs that everybody knows. You see leverage in Metallica, you see leverage in the fact that the Police [tracks] are masters. Also, [if the covers are] great songs, people want them. They want to play that song.

GS: Are there any songs proving more popular with the Xbox 360 audience than the PS3 audience or vice versa?

PD: That's an excellent question. Based on the data I have now, it's about the same.

GS: Lots of gamers aren't really familiar with the deeper cuts of Sweet or anything from 30 Seconds to Mars, and people can be very picky about cover versions of songs they know well. Where are the preview clips so customers know what they're getting before paying for it?

PD: Oh, I see, you mean in the store experience? We were just working on that yesterday and we hope to introduce that shortly.

GS: And on the official Rock Band site?

PD: I don't think we have that up yet, although I can confirm we have the rights to do what you're asking.

GS: Your announcement mentioned that the $.99 songs will only be that price through January. Will the $.99 price point always be a limited-time offer?

PD: I think you're going to see a combination of offers.

GS: And those $.99 songs will become $2 at the end of the month?

PD: Yes, they'll go to $2, which is what we call full price.

GS: It's interesting to see what's been selling for you so far. Will you be releasing weekly charts so we know at least what's popular?

PD: Yeah, I think we would like to do that, probably via RockBand.com.

GS: Can you make any generalizations about who are the most avid downloadable content consumers?

PD: What's interesting to us is that it's selling across the board. It's in the early days, but there's enough selling that there's a statistically significant sample. At first blush, I would say it really is across the board. I suspect that there's a family aspect to it, and I think you also have a bit of a "superfan" aspect going on.

GS: Is there anything that isn't selling, or isn't selling up to expectations?

PD: I would have to say no at this point. That might change as we put more content in. At some point, you really will be able to see what's selling tremendously well, what sells very well out of the gate to a core audience, and what sells consistently week over week. That'll be very interesting to see, but I think it's too soon to tell.

GS: Lots of players want all the downloadable content, regardless of what genres and styles are represented. So why aren't there packs each week that include all of the new releases? Why do you offer people a break for buying "I Fought the Law" with a few other songs, but not "Brass in Pocket"?

PD: Simply put, we are trying to create products that make sense [in] the way they hang together creatively. We've made commitments to our partners, artists, managers, labels, and publishers that will present the music in a certain way. I don't rule out what you're talking about, but it is a bit more complex. And in light of the success of the program, I believe it gives us the ability to continue those discussions. We're trying to deliver the maximum value to the gamers and we're trying to make sure that the music is presented in a way that the artist would like to see it.

GS: Activision just became part of the Vivendi corporation, which owns the Universal Music Group. The Who are a Universal Music Group act, and Who's Next was the first downloadable album announced for Rock Band. Does that merger have anything to do with why we haven't seen the first downloadable album yet?

PD: [Laughs.] I understand that there are conspiracy theories percolating out there about albums, but the process of getting tracks delivered--it's one thing if you're talking about one, two, or three tracks for a product. But if you're talking about a complete album, making sure that the stems are delivered, that we find the right versions of the masters... In some instances, the final two-track stereo version consisted of a couple of different takes cut together. We don't really know all of that, but I can assure you that it's not a Vivendi-Universal issue. Far from it.

GS: Do you expect your access to Universal Music Group artists to change in the future?

PD: I don't know. At this point I'd say no. They've been a tremendous partner to us. I think we've done a really great job on behalf of their artists, and I think we've made them a good amount of money. I expect that to continue.

GS: When will we start seeing albums, and how much will they cost?

PD: Very shortly. In fact, I hope the next time I'm speaking to you we're talking about albums. And I think you'll be very pleased with what we have.

GS: And no update on the cost?

PD: No, not yet.

GS: Can we get an update on when stand-alone instruments will be available?

PD: That will also be shortly, but that is a separate announcement. We're getting our ducks in a row for that.

GS: A lot of people have invested a lot of money into Rock Band downloadable content at this point. Will any kind of Rock Band spin-off or sequel be backward compatible with these libraries gamers are accumulating? Is that content future-proof?

PD: That's an excellent question, and I think that would be our preference.

Discussion

242 comments
Grahamatica
Grahamatica

I will soon add to the sales of Rock Band, cant wait to play every song with a 4 person band!

cosmothehound
cosmothehound

almost half of the songs are UK . so whoever brought up UK rock band already has it.

Ryoco
Ryoco

Rock Band is a great game and deserves all of the sales. I haven't tried any downloadable songs yet/

DbleBassDrummer
DbleBassDrummer

If you get two bass pedals, you can use a splitter and plug them both in. It hardly works well, however. There aren't too many instances where it's needed though, single works just fine. If you play double bass in real life, though, it might take you a little while to re-learn playing with one foot.

sitruk3012
sitruk3012

Wheres UK Rock Band?!! C'mon guys!

StryfeBringer
StryfeBringer

"PD: That's an excellent question, and I think that would be our preference." So in other words, a sequel that is not backwards compatible with the downloaded content is NOT out of the question. I hope this will not be the case since that would probably anger many of the players that have downloaded songs.

Coolvetica
Coolvetica

I completely agree, Mulishaman. he should of at least asked one simple question pertaining to the malfunctioning hardware in Rock Band. Its a valid question, but oh well, at least the warranty is decent enough to cover it, right now. As for no release in Europe yet, wow. I didn't even know it wasn't out yet over there. Hope you guys get it soon.

Mulishaman187
Mulishaman187

I am sick of these weak questions people ask devs. Why didn't Brenden ask him about the broken guitars people are getting out of the box, or how flimsy the drum sets are? Why is it so hard to ask these questions?

moocow21
moocow21

For my tastes, both the game and (especially) DLC is too expensive. Fun as hell when I played at my friend's house though.

zoe256
zoe256

They should be concentrating on getting this game out in Europe, rather than making songs for countries where it's already out. I'm getting pretty sick of waiting!

jk80
jk80

all those sales and yet it's still not out in Europe yet :(

Marill
Marill

Releasing the Game Disc without the bundle hardware here on this part of the world = cannot play the game. Where's the hardware??

margarypr
margarypr

@ Gregomasta yeah.. I have a damage guitar... I conact EA by email and I will get a replacement guitar too... and I live in Puerto Rico... and we are not a us state

gateybakes245
gateybakes245

Running this whole GameTrax operation was a guy named Josh Larson. But after Broady, Kasavin, and others left GameSpot, Larson took over the editorial aspect of the site as well. So here you had Josh Larson -- the man behind selling sponsorships of editorial -- now placed directly in charge of the editorial itself. You tell me if you see any potential conflict of interest there. > > Around the same time, Steven Colvin, known for having launched such publications as Stuff magazine, took over CNET's entertainment and lifestyle group, of which GameSpot is a part of. I don't know what his editorial influence has been on GameSpot, if any, but his track record didn't exactly point to editorial integrity as one of his prime values. Stuff magazine, for example, used to run game reviews that were written based off of screenshots and fact sheets, before the games were even playable to the press (I knew several freelancers who made lots of easy money from this). So yeah, you had the guy in charge of GameTrax and the guy who launched Stuff overseeing all editorial on GameSpot. And so the stage was set for the events of last November to unfold. Eidos paid a substantial amount of money to have its ads point to the GameSpot review of Kane & Lynch. The Kane & Lynch review wasn't very favorable. Eidos freaked. GameSpot caved. Internet exploded.

Nickolai1979
Nickolai1979

ro-co-to, You NEVER wonder? Ever? What it would be like to fly an A-10 Warthog? Not even a little bit? Hmmm. I do. Tank killers FTW!

poopinyoface
poopinyoface

and one more thing....it would be kinda fun to play the new GC song....just that one....its kinda partyish if u think about it...even tho all there other songs suck.

poopinyoface
poopinyoface

even tho i do agree to put more metal song on rock band it would be had for the drums....harder then the new metallica songs on the drums on expert....but it would be cool for ppl that actually play the drums and want more of a challenge....and i think there is a way to double pedal.....i think if u get a headphone jack splitter and use that it might be able to do that...but thats wat i heard

sandwichking91
sandwichking91

the one song rock band NEEDS: Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin. its got a great vocal part, and shredding guitar and bass solos, and a great drum part. need i say more

musicaz70
musicaz70

Good to see that this company really seems to value what the consumer whats and is practical about it. (Although the songs are a little pricey.)

ro-co-to
ro-co-to

OmegaTau would like to tell you that he cares not for guitar toys since he plays "a real axe", thanks for letting us know man, but this is a videogame and nobody entertains ideas about the real thing, kinda like when I play Ace Combat, I don't EVER wonder what it would be like to fly the real thing.

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

Ugh, all of these people and all of their opinions as to what a "great band" is. Musical taste is not the same for everyone, pea-heads who complain that Black Sabbath doesn't have an original cut and complain about the music they offer. These guys work hard to appeal to all tastes of rock, not just the 40-year-old metal dude's taste. And if they can't get the rights to a song, they work their tails off recreating it the best hey can for people to enjoy. I see no problem there. There is a problem: COST. $2.00 a song is pricey, so download as much as you can before January ends and the price shifts. They're making a well-deserved killing.

OmegaTau
OmegaTau

psst why play video game guitar when you can be like me and so many others and learn how to play a real axe. cant go wrong with the pentatonic scale and the blues scale(for solo's) woot

smfes
smfes

Oh my god i'm so buying this game just to get the Metallica songs! METALLICA ROCKS! I love ride the lightning! Can't wait for their next album either this February.

brian5
brian5

this is for dimis82. Don't hold ur breath I sent mine in 5 weeks ago was supposed 2 have it back 3 weeks ago as of the 22nd still no guitar

mr_manboy
mr_manboy

I'm pretty sure there's enough music on this earth to fill up more than 3 or 4 games Shorty

dmish82
dmish82

Gregomasta My guitar just broke Saturday. I went on the EA Rock Band Warranty website and should receive a replacement guitar this week.

4quarters
4quarters

If tha Metallaica pack had been cover versions I would NOT have bought it, They need great bands doing original versions.

Gregomasta
Gregomasta

all I want to really know is when I can buy guitars stand-alone, anyone else working with a broken guitar?

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

All these songs coming out as DLC, what's songs are they going to have left for Rock Band 2 and GH4??

Qosmos
Qosmos

I agree... Pink Floyd... Perfect mix for Rock Band. Good bass lines, singing, obviously guitar and adequate drums. Suggestions - Time, Money, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell... the list goes on....

rwdoyle
rwdoyle

Fantastic, now if only they'd start selling single guitars, make a two guitar bundle or a third party controller would come to market so that I'd actually bother buying it.

KDawg599
KDawg599

@comb5- I completely agree with u they really need 2 release some hardcore music for rock band, but guitar hero 3 does have F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X by fall of troy which is awesome. And it def would sell cuz there r a lot of ppl out there that play rock band but dont neccisarily like the music on the game (me and many of my friends included). @dmish82- It would be awesome if they released a double bass pedal!!! it would make it a lot harder, but they dont really HAVE 2 release 1 to have heavier stuff, and most of the bands comb5 was talking about werent speed/death metal it was screamo/hardcore. But i wouldnt mind more metal stuff 2, at least its better than the killers and bulls*** like that. @Willy-Wilks_777- Im pretty sure they dont have the rights 2 release andy AC/DC or led zeppelin cuz if they did they already would have. And prob not Jimmy Hendrix either altho they did have 1 of his songs in gh1 but there was no singing, so yea idk. but maybe they'll be able 2 in the future

dnathug
dnathug

I can't wait to see what they have in store for weeks ot come, 2.5 millions, damn is someone laughing their ass off at how rich their are because of this game. I don't mind covers but originals are way better, also I am surprised by songs that arn't up there yet, Ac/Dc, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi hendrix, but they will surprise us, i have been hearing this all over the forums. Peace

jordan1
jordan1

give us some better metal! come on, I wanna play death metal on rock band! that would be fun... good to hear its going good for them, just wish their controllers weren't such peices of junk...

dmish82
dmish82

@comb5 Maybe when/if they release a double-pass pedal??? Good luck trying speed/death metal otherwise.

WetVein
WetVein

I live in Canada.... and at my local Best Buy & Future Shop they always have the Rock Band bundles. I guess it depends on the store near you. Having said that....... I picked mine up in Detroit. (I live near the US border) I couldn't wait the extra month. I'm not 2 sure about whole D/L albums thou. They would have to be classic rock stuff...... Because very few Albums these days contain all good songs. It's usually 1 or 2 good songs..... 2 or 3 OK songs and the rest are fillers. But if there was a decent discount..... I might be tempted. I would really like to see some - Beatles, Floyd, Queen, Hendrix, The Doors...... and some more Nirvana, RadioHead or Stones.

comb5
comb5

I really wish MTV wasn't behind rock band. Because they'll never be brave enough to put heavy stuff on Rock Band. I'm not talking about bands like Korn or Tool. I'm talking about real heavy music like Between the Buried and Me, The Fall of Troy, and The Number Twelve Looks Like You. And don't say it wouldn't sell, because trust me it would. In the little hick town that I live in and the cities around it, there is a huge demographic for this type of music. If MTV announced even just one of the bands I mentioned I would go out and actually buy Rock Band.

Nerkle01
Nerkle01

Rock Band needs some Fuel songs. It would be awesome to be able to play Hemorrhage, Bittersweet, and Shimmer on Rock Band. I hope they put some Fuel songs up for download.

Willy-Wilks_777
Willy-Wilks_777

I think they should personally add ac/dc dlc as well as some songs such as cummin atcha live by tesla or know you enemy by Rage Against The Machine (RATM) and voodoo child by Jimi Hendrix if it isnt on there already.

bob311
bob311

Imagine how many games they would sell if they started to send some to canada too.

marijuana_man2
marijuana_man2

Mars Volta for Rock Band plz, It would be awesome to play Omar's guitar solos

Ghostchant
Ghostchant

Rock Band definately needs some Pink Floyd...I'm sure Roger Waters would disagree :)

xion2k4
xion2k4

all i want is defenatly maybe by oasis and i'll be one happy manc !

dascmir
dascmir

Give me some Avenged Sevenfold dammit, i sure would like to see their first album on Rock Band, laugh my ass off while watching my buddies try to scream like M.Shadows does (Did).

A7Xfan
A7Xfan

This guy sounds like a businessman I wouldn't want to talk to. i mean you can't give decisive answers for your company but he answers them so flatly.... There's a good and a bad to it. I'd like an answer and a good explanation as to what's going on.

FreakingScreame
FreakingScreame

Ohhhh.... Give me Nirvana's Nevermind. When I read the Game Informer article about Rock Band when I saw that album was a major consideration I decided I was getting Rock Band.

johneese
johneese

cmoooooonn And Justice for all album

jogunther
jogunther

Go Rock Band. Almost all music games are great, I wish I could afford it.

rindusuke
rindusuke

Pink Floyd would be incredible to play in this game!