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 Beatles  Sales Beating Expectations, But Activision Says  Guitar Hero 5  Leading
Beatles Sales Beating Expectations, But Activision Says Guitar Hero 5 Leading
September 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

September 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
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    27 comments
More: Console/PC



"Terrific" sales of The Beatles: Rock Band are outpacing MTV/Harmonix parent Viacom's own expectations a week after its launch, says CEO Philippe Dauman.

"Sales have exceeded our internal projections and we’ve sold 25 per cent of our inventory in the first week,” said Dauman, speaking at New York's Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference.

Viacom also says it is currently expecting about a 20 percent profit margin on the title, even though the royalty payout for the game is believed to be unusually costly to the company.

Up to $40 million is possible for band representative Apple Corps, recordings owner EMI, and catalog publishing rights owner Sony/ATV Music Publishing -- "not even comparable to anything that has been done before," according to Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman Martin Bandier.

The news of The Beatles: Rock Band's strong debut comes even as the game was trumped by rival Guitar Hero 5 on the UK charts; Activision's competing franchise took the top spot on the all-platforms chart last week even with only two days on sale, while Beatles came in fourth.

Activision told the Financial Times that the release of The Beatles: Rock Band failed to impact GH5's momentum: "It did not affect our sales," said Guitar Hero division head Dan Rosensweig, who claimed a four-to-one sales ratio in favor of his game versus Beatles in the U.S. -- and nine-to-one in "other markets," according to the report.

Dan Rosensweig, head of the Guitar Hero division at Activision, told the Financial Times it had seen no impact from the heavily-marketed Beatles game. He added that Guitar Hero outsold Rock Band by four to one in the US and nine to one in other markets.


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Comments


Mart Slot
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In other news: The release of the new remastered albums by The Beatles did not impact the sales of Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, Megadeth or Iggy Pop.



So what's Activision so proud of? That their long time Guitar Hero fans, who love rock and metal, did not "defect" to the 60's and 70's pop music from The Beatles? Well, job well done guys, that must have been real hard ;)

Kevin Jones
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"Dan Rosensweig, head of the Guitar Hero division at Activision, told the Financial Times it had seen no impact from the heavily-marketed Beatles game. “It did not affect our sales”. He added that Guitar Hero outsold Rock Band by four to one in the US and nine to one in other markets"



I am fairly sure that quote does not refer to GH5 versus Beatles Rock Band sales. If I am not mistaken, I have seen that very quote from Activision a few months back, even before GH5 and Beatles Rock Band were launched.

I am fairly sure the quote is referring to GH series sales overall versus RB series sales overall since the two franchises were introduced.

As far as GH5 versus Beatles Rock band sales are concerned, there is simply no way, that GH5 is going to outsell Beatles Rock Band in the US for September NPD. Beatles RB will easily smoke GH5 sales here.

From what I can gather, GH5 sales in the US have not impressive at all.

steve roger
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Not surprised that Guitar Hero 5 outsells Rock Band at 5 to 1 or higher right now, because the consumers already have Guitar Hero peripheral accessories.



What would be more interesting is what the statistics are of the new Rock Band peripherals?



Also, what is the number of Guitar Hero consumers that bought the Beatles Rock Band game and at least one of the required accessories.



I would like to know the dynamics here. I mean did the Beatles Rock Band generate new consumers? What is the average Beatles Rock Band consumer and that break down of consumer profiles and how are they different than Guitar Hero.



It is almost like the Wii vs. 360/PS3 this Rock Band Beatles vs. Guitar Hero.... Come to think of it how does the Wii play out in all this?

Tyler Peters
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@ Kevin Jones

Kevin - you've made previous comments nearly identical to "Beatles RB will easily smoke GH5 sales here." and "From what I can gather, GH5 sales in the US have not impressive at all." here:

http://gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25240#comments

I've asked this previously and I'll ask again, what is your basis for these comments?

I subscribe to NPD's Retail Tracking and I have to say that none of your statements make any sense.

In relation to the comments made by Rosenweig, he could be referring to either the long race or the short race, as it appears at the moment that Activision is maintaining the sales-to-sales ratio on GH5 and RB Beatles that they have on other SKUs. Agreed that this could significantly change come the holiday, or maybe not.

Look, I'm a fan of both franchises and I think they each have merit, so let's leave it at that.

Trolling belongs on sites like GameSpot or IGN, not Gamasutra.

Luke Icenhower
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@ Kevin:



You underestimate the power of a generic music game that hits upon a wide array of genres, versus a game featuring one band and one band only. Yes, we're talking about arguably the biggest, most influential band of the last century, but there's a large number of young children and teenagers who own a current generation console AND have no interest in The Beatles at all. It's not like they're rocking the high rotation of modern pop charts, after all, and for some kids, that's all they have exposure to.



Not to mention, there's also the large crowd of people (like me) who have a strong appreciation for The Beatles' music, but have no interest in buying the game for the sheer fact that their music is not technically challenging enough to warrant paying $60 for it. I immediately bought GH Metallica because I knew that the songs would start off challenging and work toward insane and maddening, but The Beatles RB is not going to challenge me one bit. Why buy the game to just listen to the music when I can rent it, play it, return it, and then keep listening to The Beatles on my iPod? With no challenge factor, you cut a lot of music game enthusiasts out of your target market.

Carlo Delallana
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@ Luke



That's a really interesting insight in your choice of playing a music game. For me, its more about enjoying the music rather than dissecting its technical challenge.

Mark Morrison
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Activision, just like MTV Games, will be releasing a ton of PR updates in the foreseeable future on their respective GH and RB titles. Remember this is usually PR spin on some sales data that we, the public, are not privy to. In these cases it's very hard to know the facts from "enhanced" facts ;) Next months NPD and some extrapolations will help us truly understand what happened this month.



Both GH 5 and Beatles RB are going to surpass expectations, in my opinion. Look at how early their holiday season has started, and we're only in Sept.



For all of the comments about how irrelevant the Beatles are, they still are top sellers for a wide demographic on the iTunes music deck and at retail. It's the only pop music my 3 yr. old recognizes and dances too. A grandson, a grandfather, and the entire family can enjoy this game. I don't think The Beatles game was meant to challenge gamers. Moreover, I think it was created to exploit a social music game genre that is ripe for the $60-$250 (full package) price point. I also know a lot of gamers who are purchasing the specific Beatles instruments.



It's really about context here, and they are both killing it IMO. As previously mentioned, competition is good for consumers.



I'm STILL anxiously awaiting Jimmy P. and LZ to approve the game we are all wanting to rock!

Luke Icenhower
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@ Carlo



Don't get me wrong, I am/already was an avid Metallica fan before the game was even announced, so I enjoy playing it even more for the sake of getting to hear two decades of great metal. But the challenger factor is HUGE to me in a music genre game. Which is why GH2 is among my favorites, and I wasn't familiar with many of the songs when I started playing it. But the challenge was immensely more difficult than GH1, which made friendly competitions for top score with my roommate happen frequently.

Kevin Jones
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@ Tyler Peters

:"I've asked this previously and I'll ask again, what is your basis for these comments? "



I must have missed your question on the other thread. Anyways here ya go:



The basis of my comments are from checking at several games retail outlets here in Manhatttan.

There is no shop I went to, which had GH5 outselling Beatles Rock Band. In addition, it would appear that GH5 sales have not been that great.



@ Tyler Peters

:"I subscribe to NPD's Retail Tracking and I have to say that none of your statements make any sense."



Yeah?

I wasn't even aware that NPD even gave out weekly figures on game or console sales. Certainly neither Microsoft, nor Ninteneo, nor Sony, have ever made any reference to such weekly sales figures from NPD in any press release I have read from any of them this generation.

Heck it takes NPD TWO WEEKS to come up with the monthly figures after the month has ended, so it woud be pretty odd indeed, if they were handing out weekly sales figures at the end of every week. You'd think they'd be able to come up with the monthly figures in like a couple of days after the month ends, if they already had all the weekly figures for the whole month wouldnt you?

Way I see it, there is little chance of GH5 managing to outsell Beatles Rock band in September NPD, let alone by 4:1.

We will see soon enough won't we?

Why don't we bookmark this page, the come back to it on NPD day (15th October I believe), yes?



@ Tyler Peters

:'In relation to the comments made by Rosenweig, he could be referring to either the long race or the short race, "



Again, there is little to no chance that GH5 oustold RB Beatles by a ratio of 4:1. I'd even go further and say there is zero chance of that happening.

For example, last year, 360 Guitar Hero World Tour was released in October , and sold 191,049 on the 360 in October, then sold less than 300,000 in November, making at best 490,000 in total (probably much less than that).

Meanwhile Rock Band 2 was released on the 360 in September, and sold 363,000 in September, then proceeded to sell another 119,569 in October, making a total of 482,569, making them about even.

On the 360, the ratio between the two was at best 1:1, not even close to the 4:1 that Rosenweig was talking about.

I don't see how the ratio is going to jump suddenly to 4:1 this year in GH's favour, even if GH5 was released on the PS2 and Beatles RB wasn't.

The only way that "4:1" comment from Rosenweig makes any sense is if he is talking about total GH fanchise sales versus total RB franchise sales, in which case it's quite possible for GH to have outsold RB by 4:1, if only because GH was on sale on the PS2 and later on the 360, long before the RB franchise was even luanched at all.



@ Tyler Peters

:"as it appears at the moment that Activision is maintaining the sales-to-sales ratio on GH5 and RB Beatles that they have on other SKUs"



Not as far as I can see.

Kevin Jones
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@ Luke,

All good points, but then Activision has been releasing so many GH games in the last 12 months, that I think the series is suffering from franchise fatigue with consumers.

You can only exploit a francise so much, in such a short period of time, in the mad chase for money.

Sean Parton
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@Kevin Jones: You can question Tyler's sources all you want, but admitting that your only sources of information is local game stores is just as bad. What makes you think that Manhattan is an excellent sample of the rest of the New York, or even the US in general?



The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

Carl Chavez
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For the non-American readers: I'd like to remind you all that New York City is the GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD, and anything seen there accurately reflects what the other 99.9987% of the world's population (or the other 99.974% of the US population) feels.



As a side note, the 4:1 ratio could make mathematical sense if Activision is counting only post-pre-order retail sales, and/or if Activision cut off the counting at some point in time where the ratio would actually be true (since Activision had an 8-day head start).

Kevin Jones
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@ Sean Parton



:"but admitting that your only sources of information is local game stores is just as bad. What makes you think that Manhattan is an excellent sample of the rest of the New York, or even the US in general?"





Because I have been doing the same surveys for over 3 years now, and apart from in very rare cases, it almost invariably tallies with NPD software rankings when they come out.

People in Manhattan don't buy games any different than in any other city in America.

This is not a political poll, where folks in New York vote one way,and folks in Alabama for example vote another way.



@ Sean Parton : "The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". "



In the absence of data (which will only come out on October 15), the only thing we have to go on for now is anecdote, gut feeling, and exprience.

It should be easy enough to check up on who is right when NPD bring out their figures next month won't it?

Prior to that happening, it's not worth my or your time to argue this matter further.

Kevin Jones
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@ Carl Chavez

:"As a side note, the 4:1 ratio could make mathematical sense if Activision is counting only post-pre-order retail sales, "



Beatles Rock Band appears to have had higher pre-orders than GH5. So that won't work either.



@ Carl Chavez:"and/or if Activision cut off the counting at some point in time where the ratio would actually be true (since Activision had an 8-day head start)."



Two things.

# 1. If Activision cut off at some time in those 8 days, before Beatles RB was even launched, their comparison would be totally worthless.

# 2. Their statement was made a week after Beatles RB was launched(yesterday). Now since RB Rockband appears to have had bigger pre-orders, I still don't see how GH5 is beating Beatles RB by 4:1.

Games of this kind, usually register a big chunk of their after launch monthly sales within the first week.



And oh, that crack about New York..games sales here have trended the same as any part of the country. When wii Fit was sold out across the country, it was sold out in New York too. There were midnight lines round the block for Halo 3 launch in Manhattan same as there werew in other parts of the country.

Games sales here are no different ftom any other part of the country.

Carl Chavez
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Kevin, post-pre-order means "after pre-orders". Therefore, the hypothetical explanation does work, because the figures would ignore pre-orders.



Here's a (completely hypothetical) example of how the math would work, using 40,000 opening day sales + 20,000 sales per day afterward for GH5, and 50,000 opening day sales for B:RB, with sales data cut off by 9/9 and ignoring pre-orders:



DATE - GH5 SALES / B:RB SALES

9/1 - 40,000 / 0

9/2 - 60,000 / 0

9/3 - 80,000 / 0

9/4 - 100,000 / 0

9/5 - 120,000 / 0

9/6 - 140,000 / 0

9/7 - 160,000 / 0

9/8 - 180,000 / 0

9/9 - 200,000 / 50,000



If something like that occurred, that would explain how Activision could claim a 4:1 ratio. That would be pretty slimy on their marketing department's part, but it would be a perfectly arguable explanation.



As for New York City sales being no different... perhaps, but perhaps not. You claim to have compared Manhattan's stores, but did you include data from the other four boroughs? Are you sure that the other boroughs' customers have the same buying habits, considering the different cultural and economic factors (especially since you're using Manhattan as your sample population, considering its economic and age statistics compared to the rest of the country)? Are you sure that people in Nashville, TN, Newport, OR, or Fargo, ND have the same buying behavior as people in Manhattan? Are you sure that the population most interested in buying B:RB or GH5 is the same population that would line up for Halo 3?



Basically, I'm just saying that it's stupid to speculate when 1) we just have to wait a couple of weeks to see more accurate numbers from NPD and other sources, 2) it's stupid to speculate in any event, since we have no vested interest in how well these games sell in the first place, and 3) all that really matters is that if a customer likes one or the other (or both), the customer can buy what he or she chooses.

Sean Parton
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@Kevin Jones: You said: "In the absence of data (which will only come out on October 15), the only thing we have to go on for now is anecdote, gut feeling, and exprience. [sic]"



Q.E.D.



@Carl Chavez: Nice statistic drop. I'm still curious as to hearing how Activision actually got their numbers, but I suppose we'll have to wait and see. Maybe Viacom will lay down some numbers in response in the near future? If Viacom or Harmonix doesn't, it would seem very damning indeed.

brett burton
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Tyler, check out this source: vgchartz.com. According to this site, the Beatles game sold over 700,000 copies in its first week, while Guitar Hero 5 sold only 519,000. Also, in the US the Beatles game sold nearly as many copies in its first week as Guitar Hero 5 has to date. Now, I don't know if their numbers are totally accurate, but it appears obvious that the Beatles game is outselling Guitar Hero right now.

Sean Parton
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@brett burton: I don't have time to find my exact sources right now, but Gamasutra has in the past posted articles on how vgchartz sometimes has widely inaccurate numbers. They're about as useful as the speculation on this thread (which is to say, they've got decent likelihood of being right, but could be anywhere from slightly to laughably off).

Kevin Jones
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Carl, your scenario could be possible theoretically.

Only thing is, Activsion gave out their "4:1" ratio just yesterday. The blurb said " Guitar Hero division head Dan Rosensweig, who claimed a four-to-one sales ratio in favor of his game versus Beatles in the U.S. -- and nine-to-one in "other markets", which I would assume refers to all sales of the two games up to yesterday, not just one day after RB Beatles launched.



@ Carl:"Basically, I'm just saying that it's stupid to speculate when 1) we just have to wait a couple of weeks to see more accurate numbers from NPD and other sources, "



Over 3 weeks to go actually.



@ Carl: "2) it's stupid to speculate in any event, since we have no vested interest in how well these games sell in the first place,"



Lots of us do. Plenty of readers here (including me) are investors and shareholders, or potential investors in some of these companies. The share prices may rise or fall quite a bit upon release of NPD figures, if sales are percieived to have been over or below expectations.



@ Carl:" and 3) all that really matters is that if a customer likes one or the other (or both), the customer can buy what he or she chooses."



That is quite important too, yes.

brett burton
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That may be true Sean, but at least it's a source, and it's more reliable than the wild speculation on this thread.

Kevin Jones
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@ Gomez Crumpett

:"Asking your favorite GameStop monkey how games are selling in his district in no way translates to credible market data,"



Sure beats taking random figures from some guy on the internet, that calls himself by the name used to describe a "piece of tail" by the English(CHORTLE!), and who thinks incompetent, clueless games executives are too high and mighty to be criticised.



@ Gomez Crumpett" no matter how long you've been relying on your guy-off-the-street method."



I'd back my methods over yours any day, based on past results.

It's easy enough to settle this isn't it?

Now why don't we meet here on October 15th, when NPD figures come out, and see who is right eh?

I am gonna bet it turns out I am in the right, and that Beatles RB DID in fact outsell GH5 for September.



@ Gomez Crumpett

"You fail. "



Naaaah.

YOU fail, as you will find out soon enough.

Tyler Peters
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NPD releases data to the press bi-monthly, monthly, and quarterly.

They do not, however, release their daily or weekly data.

Some reports, for instance the Consumer Tracking Service for Wal-Mart, has the ability to update daily (this is derived from Wal-Mart's own internal system, which updates every minute of the day, and is shockingly accurate on how much of a given item, whether it's eggs or video games, is selling).

Wal-Mart is the largest seller of video games in the country - and a relatively accurate portrayal of the state of the market and hottest sellers.

That is by no means the only service that one can subscribe to for relatively up-to-date (within a day or so) sales tracking, and in fact larger publishers, like the company I work for, have customized reports and services that specialize in the tracking of titles that we publish and those that are in competition with them.

I think I'd believe that data over your "methodology" any day.

Mark Morrison
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@ Gomez Crumpett



Quit hiding behind an alias please. Your name does not exist on Moby Games or anywhere else for that matter. Your ongoing tactic is not much more than sniping personalities. If you are so experienced in our sector then please use your real credentials and allow this community the respect it gives you and everyone else who tries to interact here in a meaningful way.



@ Gamasutra staff. Can you please deal with this person in an appropriate manner? Check his/her threads in the past and try to find any proof they exist online. If you can validate their identity please ask them to be honest here. Thanks!

gstarr W
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DJ Hero will render this whole conversation mute. It will out sell the RB Beatles by at least 3 to 1. It will cement GH as the supreme music franchise (at least sales wise) and therefore all the currnet musicians who are still alive, will flock to it. EA will be burdened with the royalties they are paying to the Beatles, and will not have the money to woo other current or past artists. This will be a total win for ActiBliz. They did right not to sign the Beatles.

I don't know why EA has spent so much money advertising this game on the PS3/360. The demographic that will shell out the $$ on this game has been repeatedly shown to be Wii owners. After a game of Wii-bowling they can play "I wanna hold your hand". That's where they should put their money. The Beatles are last year, no decade, no CENTURY. Archaic, like Wii architecture.

Kevin Jones
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@ Gomez Crumpett

"You don't have a method. "



As it turns out, I DO have a method, and my method actually WORKS. See today's NPD figures.



"@ Gomez Crumpett:

"You have what's better refered to as "jesus logic". I.e. unsubstantiated belief in whimsicaly incomplete pieces of unreliable information."



Given that it turns out my method works and works very well (from today's NPD figures) what does that make you? and your method?

Gomez Crumpet, a boy calling himself by the same name that the English give to an English tart , and with a thinking process, that is about makes about as much sense as log of wood.

You lose again..as usual.

Kevin Jones
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@ Tyler Peters:



"Kevin - you've made previous comments nearly identical to "Beatles RB will easily smoke GH5 sales here." and "From what I can gather, GH5 sales in the US have not impressive at all." here:

http://gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25240#comments

I've asked this previously and I'll ask again, what is your basis for these comments?

I subscribe to NPD's Retail Tracking and I have to say that none of your statements make any sense. "



So much for your fake subscription to "NPD's Retail Tracking".

Why on earth would you come to a gaming site and lie, when you know the real NPD figures will come out sooner or later, and your liw will be exposed?

I was right (from today's NPD figures), and you were wrong.

Tyler Peters
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I hold to what I wrote because it was true - If you include all retail tracking, including WM data, GH5 was ahead of RB. Secondly, RB is doing well, and picked up steam during the last week of Sept, which benefitted it considerably, and allowed it to bounce ahead in the NPDs. However the WW sales of both still indicate GH5 in the lead. That cold change, however, at the holiday time as I have noted before. Bu at best it will be a rather close horse race.

Finally, I don't see any numbers here, public or otherwise, that indicate that GH5 got "smoked"as you predicted in your previous posts.

Note to Gamasutra Staff: I'm posting this identical comment in both of the old forums that Kevin refers to here


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