Wii GHIII sound triggers lawsuit

Class-action suit filed against Activision seeks financial restitution over false claims of stereo sound in Wii version of the game.

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Last week, Activision copped to widespread reports that its popular rhythm-based music game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was not outputting stereo audio, despite Dolby Pro Logic II surround-sound support clearly being displayed on the game's box. In an effort to rectify the problem, the publisher revealed plans to remaster and reissue the Wii version of the game at no charge to purchasers in early 2008.

However, the megapublisher will have at least one more obstacle to clear before the issue can be considered settled. Activision is now facing a class-action lawsuit stemming from the game, as revealed by a court filing obtained by Wired. The suit, filed by Samuel Livingston in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of himself and others who purchased the Wii version of the game, alleges that Activision engaged in "deceptive and unlawful conduct in designing, manufacturing, marketing, distributing, and selling a defectively designed music video game for the Nintendo Wii game console."

The complaint points to aforementioned claims by Activision that the game outputs mono, or single-channel, sound only, despite stereo sound and Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound being advertised on the game's box and manual. It also takes issue with the fact that, as of the time of the court filing, Activision had not addressed the situation to Wii GHIII purchasers and continued to sell the game without notifying potential buyers. Activision had not responded to requests for comment on the suit as of press time.

The class action suit seeks to recover the cost of the game for purchasers as well as strip Activision of its profits stemming from the Wii game, in addition to other legal restitutions associated with the claim. As of the end of October, 286,000 copies of the game had been sold for the Wii in the US, according to the NPD Group.

The Guitar Hero franchise is turning out to be a legal lightning rod for Activision. In November, the publisher, as well as Harmonix and Wavegroup Sound, was sued by rock outfit The Romantics because of the game's uncanny "imitation" of the band and its 1980 hit "What I Like About You" in Guitar Hero Encore: Rock the 80s. The suit comes even though Activision secured the rights to reproduce the song for the game.

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