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Gaming Short Takes: Rock Band Billion, Sims DRM, and Eidos Shareholder Vote

rock band record billion salesRecapping a few quick bits from around the gaming world: Rock Band has crossed into rare air and achieved a billion dollars in North American sales, EA will forego using the controversial SecuROM DRM system with the Sims 3 and Eidos is now one step closer to closing its sale.

The details….

Guitar Hero was king for a year, now the throne belongs to Rock Band.

MTV Games, Harmonix and Electronic Arts jointly announced that their Rock Band franchise crossed the billion dollar revenue threshold in North America (based on NPD data), achieving the milestone faster than any other game in history.

Hitting the milestone in fifteen months, the game bested the prior record of 26 months claimed last January by Activision’s rival Guitar Hero brand.

Both music games have proven fantastic sellers.  Not diminishing that fact but as a footnote for looking at the revenue records, it is important to note the totals for both games is skewed because of their pricing structures. Specifically:  early Guitar Hero installments were largely sold as bundles that combined both a guitar controller and the software.  The price these kits commanded at retail  was substantially higher than other games sold only as software.

The same phenomenon applies to Rock Band too.  When it came along, the game upped the ante further by deliver a multiple peripheral, “full band” kit that multiplied the pricing again (this time to well above the earlier Guitar Hero kits).

The higher pricing of the kits has helped each game set the successive records.   That notwithstanding, Guitar Hero was the North American best seller in 2007 in terms of both revenue and units.  Rock Band was the top seller in revenue for 2008. 

According to the announcement, Rock Band has also sold 40m paid song downloads since launching in November 2007. Another significant achievement.

And the numbers could soar further when the next Rock Band spinoff, which is built entirely around the Beatles, launches in September.

Once bitten, twice shy? … No SecuROM for EA’s upcoming release of the Sims 3.

Last fall gamers cried foul and opinions soured when EA implemented a controversial anti-piracy measure to protect its highly touted PC title, Spore.

The SecuROM DRM system limited the number of computers a customer could install the game on and required online authentication. 

In the uproar, some customers  claimed the system damaged their computers while others said the lack of disclosure was the equivalent to “malware.” 

Around the web, fans wrote complaints and spit their venom. Multiple lawsuits were filed.  (More on the fiasco and related lawsuits can be found here and here).

Looking to avoid a repeat scenario, EA studio head Rod Humble announced today that the company will revert back to tried and true (and customer accepted) serial number registration when it releases the Sims title in June.

On the Sims website, Humble said “we feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.”

The game will debut June 2nd for PC and Mac users.

Square Enix can check off one of its remaining to-do items in its bid to acquire Eidos with a successful shareholder vote now achieved.

Eidos announced today its holders approved the acquisition by a margin vote of just over 85%.  The deal is now set to close April 22nd.  (More on Eidos and the transaction available here and here)



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EA Faces More SecuROM Lawsuits
DRM, EA and Spore (A Deeper Look)
• Square Enix Bids to Snag Eidos
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