Overall sales of Guitar Hero titles may have slowed this past holiday, but make no mistake, the franchise is still enormous.
Speaking during a CES keynote in Las Vegas on Friday, Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith said that over the holidays, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock became the first single game ever to surpass $1 billion in sales. The game launched in the fall of 2007.
The news comes about a year after Activision announced that the overall franchise had broke $1 billion in sales across all titles from the series’ 2005 launch to that point in time.
That success is translating to other industries, Griffith said. Citing Nielsen data, he said download sales for artists appearing on Guitar Hero have risen 15-843 percent. First-week sales of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith tripled the first-week sales of the band’s previous album. Griffith said games are "reinvigorating the music industry."
Downloads for Guitar Hero games now stand at 21 million units. 141,000 user-generated songs have been posted via Guitar Hero: World Tour.
Data from national instrument retailer Guitar Center indicated that sales of real guitars were also up. Griffith said two-thirds of non-musicians exposed to music games plan to start playing a real instrument in the next couple of years, while three-fourths of musicians said they’ve spent more time with their instruments since picking up a music game.
Between January and September 2008, sales of electric guitars and amplifiers to first-time users surged 27 percent over 2007 at Guitar Center, with the company attributing the rise to music games like Guitar Hero.
Games Grow, Other Entertainment Shrinks
Griffith addressed the overall games industry, saying games "are poised to eclipse all other forms of entertainment in the decade ahead."
The exec said sales growth in box office, home video, recorded music, books, magazines and newspapers was flat or declined from 2004-2007. "These are all stagnant or contracting entertainment markets," he said. "Gaming is growing and capturing a larger share of all media."
Software sales have grown over 40 percent during the same time frame, he said.
Griffith attributed the games growth to technological advancements, as well as the increasing quality of storytelling, community and interactivity.
"Gaming is changing the world of storytelling, the world of music and the world of entertainment in ways we never could have imagined a few years ago, and certainly not in 1972," Griffith stated.