Rock Band hits 7M, rings up $574M in US

Viacom awarding $300 million-plus bonus to Harmonix founders after rhythm franchise hits massive sales milestone; 26 million downloads worldwide to date.

When MIT college chums Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy founded Harmonix in 1995, their goal was to fuse the joys of playing music and playing games. Some 13 years later, they have done so several times over. After developing Frequency, the original Karaoke Revolution, and Guitar Hero, the company shipped Rock Band, which combines both vocals and instruments.

Ten months after the first Rock Band launched on November 20, 2007, Rock Band 2 hit stores on September 14, 2008. Now, multimedia multinational Viacom, owner of Harmonix parent company MTV Games, is reporting that the Rock Band franchise has hit a massive sales milestone. In a conference call with investors last week, Viacom president Philippe Dauman said that all games in the series have sold over 7 million combined units in 13 countries.

"We have a tiger by the tail in Rock Band and our growing games business," he declared.

According to the NPD Group, over 3.51 million units of the original Rock Band were sold in the US as of September 30, along with over 362,000 units of the Xbox 360 Rock Band 2--the only edition available as of that month. (A PlayStation 3 version was released in October, with Wii and PlayStation 2 versions due out by year's end.) There's also the stand-alone Rock Band Track Pack Volume 1 for the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2, which sold a combined 119,500 units domestically since their July release. (Volume 2 will ship next Tuesday.)

In cash terms, Rock Band and its sequel generated a respective $548.7 million and $21.6 million as of September 30, according to NPD, the game industry's preeminent market-research firm. Throw in the $3.5 million from the Track Packs, and that's just shy of $574 million in revenue from physical US retailers alone.

The aforementioned figure doesn't include revenue from Rock Band games' online music store, which offers single songs and track packs for digital download each week. Dauman also announced that, to date, some 26 million Rock Band and Rock Band 2 songs have been downloaded worldwide. Though he didn't break out exactly how much money the Harmonix franchise has pumped into Viacom's coffers, he did say that "worldwide [quarterly] ancillary revenues in Viacom's Media Networks grew 36 percent on the continuing strength of Rock Band." For the July-September quarter, Viacom ancillary revenues totaled $313 million, meaning Rock Band was the main factor behind a $112.7 million earnings increase.

As a result, Viacom is handsomely rewarding Rigopulos and Egozy for their efforts. In a SEC filing, the company revealed that during the July-September quarter, it had paid "$150 million...under an earn-out agreement related to the 2006 acquisition of Harmonix Music Systems Inc." Viacom is also planning a final earn-out payment next year which "is expected to exceed this year's payment." (Emphasis added.) Add in Harmonix's original $175 million purchase price, and the Boston-based developer stands to earn a minimum of $475 million in just three years--and just three years after showing its wares in Kentia Hall at E3 2005.

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Discussion

62 comments
KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

These guys are not poor.

69Kameleon69
69Kameleon69

Rock Band is fun, especially with a friends to make it a full band.

actorvip2
actorvip2

i like the way rock band is. I still dont have a full band feel yet. I know what im talking about too. I play in a band as a lead singer and basses. I feel that they should have taken some clues from true drummers like guitar hero did. And maybe ( If money allows) packaging a mic stand for those who can sing the song and play an instrument. ( its not that hard) we will just have to wait and see.

Arlondiluthel
Arlondiluthel

While I wouldn't say that Rock Band is the best music game EVER (I feel that that slot always has and always will belong to DDR, but I'm just that much of a nerd), Rock Band is better than Guitar Hero. Mainly for the fact that they did the full-band thing first, and World Tour is just ripping off Rock Band and they probably wouldn't have released World Tour if Rock Band hadn't become so popular. I think that the Guitar Hero series peaked at 2, because they decided to throw in songs that are just retardedly hard in 3 (TTFAF), and I haven't played World Tour, but I've heard many mixed feelings towards it. But anyways, congrats to Harmonix on a job well done!

OmegaCookie7
OmegaCookie7

Man... I really wish these would hit down under. Us poor Aussies :(

okassar
okassar

RB 1 and 2 are great,I bought both a continue to enjoy them...but I am pretty disappointed about the warranty policy,if you play hard or expert you are DESTINED to break your drums in some way eventually,I got mine fixed the first time,but the second time it was past the 3 months mark.Forget that.Now I have to find some way to get new drums without shelling out some major cash again--you would figure if you give them 180 bucks,you are guaranteed satisfaction...

Thebomb44
Thebomb44

wiiplay1: Mimicked? They got the rights to Guitar Hero and produced it as a normal Guitar Hero game. Harmonix pulls out Rock Band. Are you saying they should keep making Guitar only? Just because you have to take a play from your opponent's playbook doesn't mean that you're strictly mimicking them. It's better to copy someone else than be left behind. Aside from that, RB2 essentially copied the predecessor with tweaks. I appreciate World Tour's attempt at the LEAST to bring the music studio to the table, which has already produced some great songs with just the studio itself. (Go look up Fur Elise in WT.)

RoC1909
RoC1909

That's great but since the company is doing so well, I would love to see some more 'freebies'. I understand that RB2 has the 20 song DLC that was free but 95% of the people have MAYBE only heard of 1 or at the most, 2 of the groups. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I bet the publisher was PAID money from the groups or their publishers to be in the 20 free song DLC. Any 'unknown' group would do that in a heartbeat because it's a known fact that sales of albums / tracks spike for artists that are in GH or RB. It's fun to 'pretend' to be Steve Vai, Satch, Eddie, Hendrix and many more. It's not so much to be The Chevelles, Kutless, Dealership and who else. While there are a few songs that are cool, the publisher went way too INDIE with this. At least we could have got a FEW mainstream acts.

smbius
smbius

I have some experience playing drums and guitar. I think most people I've come across that can play instruments usually don't have negative things to say about people who love to play Rockband. It's just sort of there.

BradHummr
BradHummr

That's an impressive amount of money! At least they're getting something for all of their work. Although I have honestly never played any GH or RB. I hope to someday!

wiiplay1
wiiplay1

Now I question where the people who mimicked this game (Activision and Neversoft) stand after this report and EA's license of the Beatles.

redrider25077
redrider25077

rock band is a good game. and the first two guitar heroes were also well done. but i think that the offerings of gh3 and ghwt (i havent played the aerosmith game) are better than the previous harmonix games or rock band. but good for them for finally gettin some money for all their good ideas

Smogtoe
Smogtoe

Interesting to see people come into the comments sections of Rockband, and Guitar Hero articles. With the sole intent to bash the players because they think these people don't play real instruments as well. Pity, such a pity. When will these individuals learn that these are games, and people like games .......they don't want to hear ...."go get a real guitar", you blah, blah, need to get a life and learn how to play a guitar or real drums". Pity, such a pity!

lamplan
lamplan

This is one company that truly deserves the riches it is getting. A great product model, and many many satisfied customers.

RAVEZero
RAVEZero

@Nichols1984: You owe me $250 right now. $1 dollar for each brain cell you just killed with that God-forsaken grammar.

thescorpion1983
thescorpion1983

If only they could lower the price of the game with that bonus..us the buyers.

snake2215449
snake2215449

Oh my God, thats a lot. I wish Guitar Hero had more.

Gamingcucumber
Gamingcucumber

Harmonix proves that you need the talent and not only the name. (refering to them taking over the market from Guitar Hero World Tour which obviously is a lacking experience compared to the service Rock Band provides)

shadowblade99
shadowblade99

Wow, well someone isn't suffering in this drab economy. I guess I should've been a video game creator. LOL!

tonicmole
tonicmole

I am in a band called "girls make milk" and nobody cares. Bands are a dime a dozen. At this point I'd rather just play rock band.

Lostboy1224
Lostboy1224

I can't believe there is a show on MTV that has "bands" playing Rock Band in some sort of competition. But if people want to embarrass themselves on TV then go right ahead.

KyoValdez
KyoValdez

Ain't no thing but a chicken wing.

havocmerc
havocmerc

I hope that when they are paying out their Christmas bonuses that they remember who men and women actually worked to produce the games.

MattHopeKids
MattHopeKids

Well done. I just won't be buying into it until they impove thier Wii RB offering. GH still trumps RB on wii easily.

Mr_arizona
Mr_arizona

Nichols1984 Posted Nov 12, 2008 2:54 am CT This is ridiculous has anyone those tards at wal-mart playing rock band in the clothing section it is stupid go play a real instrument pick up chicks get a record deal and jam out for real, not for play - Its just a game not everyone will achieve their dream to be a rock and roll star. its cheaper and easier to buy instrument controllers and learn red, green, and blue than all the chords on a real guitar. If you have the chance to be a real rockstar take it but for most people this is the best option and it is fun as hell to play. Also even with RB you can still pick up chicks cause they can play too. : )

SidV101
SidV101

good for them! I've always thought that the Harmonix games (RB1 & 2) were better than the Activision ones (GH3, GHA & GHWT), and GH2 was the best rhthym game EVAR.

4esth
4esth

@VenomRitual - Yes, because Neversoft took over development of Guitar Hero. So it is Harmonix vs Neversoft.

Nichols1984
Nichols1984

This is ridiculous has anyone those tards at wal-mart playing rock band in the clothing section it is stupid go play a real instrument pick up chicks get a record deal and jam out for real, not for play

insanitycheck3
insanitycheck3

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

VenomRitual
VenomRitual

here's the question now than. since Harmonix came up with both GH and RB, are RB and GH competitors now that both are essentially the same thing?

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Hey Harmonix, how about giving us fans some of that dough..not being too greedy just a couple of thousand..lol..We promise to use some it to buy more music..lol.

sphinx-shadow
sphinx-shadow

spectacular sales for rock band i can't say i did't help. Can't wait for the Beatles game in Q4 09 i am glad Harmonix is developing it.

swingbatter13
swingbatter13

I agree with dmish82. I also play a real guitar. I have for 4 years now. But I still love to play Rock Band. Especially since most of my friends don't play real instruments, but they still wanna jam out!

RAVEZero
RAVEZero

@Roidz87: So you got a guitar and an amp on the cheap, and you immediately find yourself superior to the rest of us? That's a little sad. And how sure are you that people will be "more" impressed if you can play Metallica on a real Guitar? I think the same level applies to those that can 5-Star Psychobilly Freakout.

Toro_Nev
Toro_Nev

wow that sounds really good so far!

dmish82
dmish82

@Roidz87 Also, it exposes everyone to different music they may not have listened to before. I thought my music knowledge was pretty broad BEFORE Rock Band, but they've expanded it even further. This is great for artists looking to make the scene and it's great for users who get to hear different music. How many people do you know that could have named Bodhisavatta by Steely Dan before Rock Band 2? I bet not many, but I bet they all could have named Reelin' in the Years. Point made.

dmish82
dmish82

@Roidz87 I originally played a real guitar for about 10 years and I now actually prefer to play Rock Band. You need to realize that not everyone is going to think like you. Some people would prefer to make their own music and play a real instrument, while others would prefer to play a video game instead. I mean, heck, I learned to play drums by playing Rock Band, so it's not completely unrelated as you make it out to be. That's an accomplishment in of itself right there. And I will continue to purchase future Rock Band games as DLC is compatible and I enjoy playing the game much more than I enjoy playing real guitar at this point. So to that I say, keep releasing them!

Roidz87
Roidz87

Hopeless! If everyone stopped wasting their money on stupid rhythm games, there might actually be some successful musicians out their. I admit, I played GH 1 and 2 and a little of 3, but enough is enough. I bought a guitar and amp for under $300, that is probably less than most of you have spent buying rockband and guitar hero combined. Learning a real instrument is much more gratifying than mastering a plastic guitar. Plus, people will be more impressed with you if you can play Metallica on a real guitar anyway. I look at it this way, if I would have had a guitar when I started playing guitar hero, I would have mastered it by now. Anyway, stop wasting money on these stupid games, because we all know that they will keep releasing them as long as you pump money into them.

twitchy145
twitchy145

I agree with Hott-FuzZ. Flame away kiddies.

gnbfd
gnbfd

Boo Viacom! Yay Harmonix & Rock Band!

narutoxx5
narutoxx5

this sucks... i want rock band 2 ntsc-j.....

baystatethrashr
baystatethrashr

i assume this is both rock band games but either way this is great news. this game has heart and soul something that Guitar Hero lacks the people that make this game actually are musicians and have bands.

G-Legend
G-Legend

is this Rock band 2? or both Rock bands sold 7m?

kingsalami
kingsalami

Congrats! Excellent, humble developers that definitely deserve recognition!

weaselboy
weaselboy

Just got the AC/DC track pack the other day and it is worth every cent!!! Next up Def Leopard please Harmonix. Rockband is definitely killing GHWT

ittman123
ittman123

ctg867, All GHWT did was catch up to RB, there was no inovation, unless you're referring to the music maker. Which is an inovation, I'll grant you, but it's not like they reinvented the wheel there, just tried to keep up with RB.