Besides Wii Music's no-show, another mystery about yesterday's NPD numbers was the absence of two of the biggest games of the season. Nowhere to be found were Guitar Hero World Tour, the newest entry in Activision's billion-dollar rhythm series, and Rock Band 2, the latest installment in MTV Games' own seven-million-unit franchise. How could these two headline-grabbing, money-minting franchises be missing in action?
The answer is simple. The NPD Group, the US game-industry research firm of record, issues its best-seller lists based on SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units), retail shorthand for a single product. Each iteration of a game on a different platform is its own SKU, and every subconfiguration--bundles, special editions, and so on--is also a different SKU. With no less than 11 Guitar Hero World Tour and four Rock Band 2 configurations, the two games simply spread themselves too thin, SKU-wise, to make the cut.
Now, the release of the raw October NPD data allows for the tabulation of the two games' total sales. Unsurprisingly, Guitar Hero World Tour, available on four consoles, was the winner with just more than 534,000 units sold for the month. The most popular platform was the Xbox 360 (about 191,000 units), followed by the Wii (approx. 183,000), PlayStation 3 (approx. 97,000), and PlayStation 2 (approx. 63,000). Overall, the game generated $67.3 million in sales during the month.
Rock Band 2's second-place finish wasn't too shabby either, with sales split almost evenly amongst its two platforms. NPD reports that US retailers sold about 238,000 units of the game during October, around 119,000 being of the 360 variety and approximately 118,000 bearing the PlayStation 3 mark. Its monthly haul stood at $26.7 million. The PS3 version of the game went on sale October 17, nearly a month after the 360 Rock Band 2. Wii and PlayStation 2 editions are expected next month.
Unfortunately, October was not nearly as kind to the third instrument-based rhythm game released during the month, Rock Revolution. According to NPD figures, Konami's critically savaged game sold less than 3,000 units on the 360, PS3, and DS combined. The Wii version will be released next month.