Music helps fuel sales increase for video games

Tue Feb 3, 2009 11:47pm EST
 
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By Steve Traiman

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Billboard) - Four major video-game franchise titles with music tie-ins sparked a record year for U.S. video-game and computer game software, representing more than 5 percent of the total 297.6 million units sold in 2008, according to the NPD Group.

Unit sales were up 11 percent from the prior year's record and represented $11.7 billion at retail, a 23 percent year-over-year increase.

Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL 09" sold more than 5.25 million units, followed by Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto IV" with 5.22 million, Activision/Red Octane's "Guitar Hero World Tour" with 3.4 million and Harmonix/MTV/EA's "Rock Band 2" at 1.7 million.

In a rare success story on the economic front, U.S. retailers raked in $21.33 billion in sales of gaming hardware, software and accessories during the year (not including the PC market), up 19 percent from 2007.

"Madden NFL 09" launched August 12 with a 26-song soundtrack for its 20th anniversary edition, with collaborations by Busta Rhymes featuring Linkin Park and Young Dre, the Truth featuring Good Charlotte and earlier Madden hit makers Franz Ferdinand, Gym Class Heroes, All American Rejects, Shinedown, Senses Fail, Disturbed, the Offspring and Airbourne.

When Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto IV" debuted in April on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it featured a record 214 tracks on 16 stations playable from radios of cars within the game, with genres ranging from hip-hop and Latin to electronica and hard rock. A 16-track CD, "The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV," was included in the game's special editions, and all tracks were available as downloads on Amazon.com.

"Guitar Hero World Tour" was the first top-selling franchise title to feature playable drums and a microphone when it shipped in October for PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii, noted Activision head of publishing Dusty Welch. An avatar of Jimi Hendrix is showcased in the game, as is his "The Wind Cries Mary" and a live version of "Purple Haze." And Metallica's much-anticipated studio album "Death Magnetic" was available as downloadable content for "GHWT."

The "Rock Band 2" soundtrack featured more than 80 songs on the game disc plus an additional 20 bonus tracks available for free download when it shipped in September.

Among exclusive tracks were AC/DC's "Let There Be Rock," Guns N' Roses' "Shackler's Revenge" from its Chinese Democracy album and Bob Dylan's first video-game track, "Tangled Up in Blue," from his 1975 album "Blood on the Tracks."

Reuters/Billboard

 
<p>A screen shot from Madden NFL 09 is seen in a handout image. REUTERS/EA/Handout</p>