In 2008, gamers everywhere cranked the volume up to 11, rocking out to Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2! These titles are the latest music-oriented games to be released. Games in this genre are often dubbed rhythm games due to the players need to press particular buttons in rhythm with an onscreen fretboard.

Previous versions of these franchises have garnered critical and commercial acclaim. Guitar Hero 3 sold over 8 million units and an 83/100 score on metacritic.com. The original Rock Band, which brought drums and a microphone to the table for the first time, sold over 7.1 million units worldwide and scored an impressive 92/100 metacritic score.

The true battle of the bands erupted in Fall of 2008 when Activision released Guitar Hero World Tour, which included a full set of instruments for the first time in the Guitar Hero franchise as well as a mode that lets gamers create their own music. In October alone, Guitar Hero World Tour sold over 500,000 units equaling an impressive $67 million in sales!


Harmonix didn't back down, proving worthy of sharing the crown for one of the hottest products of 2008 with the release of Rock Band 2 for the Xbox 360 in September and on other systems in October. Rock Band 2 sold 363,000 units for the Xbox 360 in September and 238,000 in October for total unit sales of over 600,000!

On top of the millions of dollars that consumers, myself included, are willing to shell out to fulfill their Rockstar fantasies, we are also willing to pay for more songs. Rock Band alone has 345 songs available for download -- and download gamers have -- to the tune of 28 million. With each song costing around $2, even after paying the labels, Harmonix has struck gold!

Sales of additional songs have been so strong that in early 2008, Motley Crue's new single was downloaded to Rock Band 47,000 times compared to a meager 10,000 on iTunes! With sales figures like that, it's no surprise that the music industry wants a bigger cut of the profits!

Music games aren't just for the stereotypical young male gamer. The ability for anyone to pick up familiar looking controllers has earned these games acclaim from gamers of all ages. A recent survey released by Best Buy found that 30% of families will play interactive games like Guitar Hero together, making it an excellent way to spend time with your loved ones.

Given the blockbuster success on all fronts, it's no surprise that music video games made WalletPop's Hottest Products of 2008 list. I've fallen full force into the trend, playing Rock Band on a regular basis with my friends and family. When my dad sat down at the drums and played through Gimme Shelter for the first time, I knew that music games were destined for great things!


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