Activision preps Guitar Hero encores

Publisher pledges to triple yearly output of rhythm games released by 2010, teases next big thing.

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Guitar Hero World Tour (2008)
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Activision purchased the Guitar Hero franchise in 2006 along with original publisher Red Octane. The acquisition cost the publisher nearly $100 million, with an additional $51 million thrown in if the outfit met certain performance markers. Earlier this year, Activision announced that the series had surpassed the $1 billion sales threshold.

At a presentation for analysts yesterday, the publisher confirmed that it wasn't quite through with its epic "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" financial-windfall drum solo. Activision Publishing president Mike Griffith told the assembled analysts that next year, the company would be doubling 2008's number of Guitar Hero SKUs. (The same game appearing on three different platforms would be counted by retailers as three stock-keeping units, or SKUs.) The publisher wants to keep up that pace of expansion, and Griffith said that in 2010, Activision Blizzard plans to release almost triple this year's number of Guitar Hero SKUs.

"We've learned that the consumer still has an insatiable appetite for more," Griffith said.

Backing up that claim was a variety of factoids that emerged during the presentation. Griffith said that Guitar Hero: Aerosmith generated more revenue than any of the band's actual albums. Universal Music Group president Zach Horowitz told the audience that he's seen songs that have appeared in Guitar Hero boost their average sales many times over, with Weezer's "My Name is Jonas" in particular receiving a 1,000 percent sales jump in the 13 weeks after its Guitar Hero debut.

And though the upcoming World Tour marks the expansion of the game into a four-piece band game that includes drums and vocals, Griffith teased that the next big jump is just around the corner.

"Beyond this, we have a step-change innovation plan already in development that takes our game experience in new and exciting directions...which we'll announce at a later date," Griffith said.

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