Guitar Hero III, Rock Band battle handicapped

The simExchange's Jesse Divnich suggests Activision's rhythm-game champion will score a solid victory over Harmonix's upstart.

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This holiday season's rhythm game rumble will see original Guitar Hero publisher RedOctane competing against original Guitar Hero developer Harmonix at the behest of their new parent companies, as Activision's Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and MTV Games' Rock Band vie for headliner status.

With Guitar Hero III released in North American stores late last month and Rock Band not set to arrive until November 20, simExchange analyst Jesse Divnich today summarized the prediction market's expectations for each title's performance.

The simExchange allows users to invest fake money in games and consoles based upon their sales expectations compared to a market expectation that is based on other users' investments. Talented prognosticators are rewarded with more money to put back into the market, which means their analysis is given more weight in determining what the market expectation for each game will be.

According to the simExchange's numbers and Divnich's analysis, the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero III will trounce Rock Band for Microsoft's console, which has seen its stock drop in recent weeks. Divnich noted that the simExchange had been projecting Rock Band for the Xbox 360 to sell as many as 250,000 copies in the US during the month of November, nearly on par with the 287,000 sales first-month sales figure expected of Guitar Hero III for the 360.

However, when news broke that individual Rock Band instruments would not be available at launch, forcing consumers to either buy the game on its own or with every instrument in a $169.99 bundle, simExchange users began lowballing their estimates. Since then, the market expectation of first-month sales for the Xbox 360 edition of Rock Band has fallen to 150,000. Lifetime sales of Guitar Hero III are also expected to beat those of Rock Band, with the Xbox 360 versions of each pegged to move and 2.23 million and 880,000, respectively.

As for other platforms, the simExchange lists a cross-section of titles based on demand from its userbase, and as a result had no data for Rock Band on the PlayStation 3 or the PlayStation 2. On the other hand, the market is currently expecting Guitar Hero III to sell lifetime totals of 1.76 million copies on the Wii, 2.11 million on the PS2, and 799,000 on the PS3. Divnich said the performance expected of the Wii edition is particularly impressive, noting that Wii editions of multiplatform titles--especially those from American publishers--have met with little success.

Yesterday, Activision released its quarterly financial figures and discussed the early success of Guitar Hero III. While it didn't talk about the number of copies each version sold, it did say that the title accounted for more than $115 million in first-week sales on all platforms.

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