Viacom said in its fourth quarter earnings call that Rock Band 2
sales were solid with 2 million units sold since the music game's September 2008 launch, but admitted that the sales are still weaker than expected.
The media conglomerate attributed Rock Band 2
's underperformance to a sudden drop in retail spending in the last two months of 2008, according to a report
from digital content business site PaidContent.
Despite the title's lower than expected sales for the quarter ending December 31st, Viacom notes that the series helped increase full-year revenues for its Media Networks segment by 8 percent to $8.76 billion. The October to December quarter contributed $2.48 billion to that amount, and was up 1 percent over the same period in 2007.
The Media Networks' increased revenue was one of very few positive highlights in Viacom's earnings call, as the company reported a 69 percent drop in profits for the fourth quarter, due to weak advertising sales from its cable channels and declining filmed-entertainment revenues.
Viacom sees Rock Band
as a bright spot in what looks to be a difficult 2009, and plans to focus more of its attention on the franchise this fiscal year, hoping to offset further declining ad revenue.
Though Harmonix, an MTV subsidiary and the developer behind the rhythm game series, has stated that it doesn't plan to release a numbered Rock Band
release in 2009, the studio is releasing downloadable content and working on a game based on the Rock Band
premise, but featuring music from The Beatles.
Chief financial officer Tom Dooley also noted that the company would like to take advantage of the fact that the video game series has higher profit margins than Viacom's DVD business.