This week's announcement for The Beatles: Rock Band and its $250 price tag got me thinking about the exorbitant prices we've already seen for the full band packages of Guitar Hero: World Tour and Rock Band 2 (and Rock Band before that).
Are consumers really buying the full band kits? The Guitar Hero: World Tour full band package retails for $190, a full $90 more than that guitar bundle and $130 more than the standalone game. Consumers have to really want the full band to jump up that much over the other versions. What do the sales figure say about this?
According figures from Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities, based on data from the NPD Group, we can estimate the following about Guitar Hero: World Tour sales in the United States from October 2008 through January 2009.
I'll confess that I was impressed with just how well the full band kit is selling, especially given its premium price, economic conditions, and the sheer number of plastic guitars that are already out in the market.
Of course, the situation is more dynamic than the picture above shows. The full band kit was exceptionally popular at launch and then lost some of its importance through November. December and January saw increases in the popularity of the full band kit, with nearly half of all packages sold in January being the full band.
From Activision's perspective, the full band kit is even more of a money maker. We can get a measure of this by making a coarse revenue estimate based on $190 for the full band, $100 for the guitar bundle, and $60 for the standalone game.
The standalone game has been reduced to a mere 11% of the Guitar Hero: World Tour revenue stream while the full band has jumped to over 60%.
What does this mean for The Beatles: Rock Band? That's hard to say. We don't know precisely what kind of hardware will be bundled with the $250 version, and that may well determine how attractive it is to consumers. At this moment, however, we can see that a $190 full band package is not only the dominant choice for music game consumers, but is also the lion's share of the revenue for such a game.