‘Guitar Hero’ plucks No. 1 from ‘Halo’

Music simulator sells 1.4 million units

“Guitar Hero III” has bested Master Chief, combining all its versions to steal the No. 1 spot from “Halo 3” in October.

According to NPD Group, Activision’s music simulator sold 1.4 million units. Microsoft’s “Halo 3,” which sold 434,000 units, technically took No. 1 because NPD lists versions of the same game for different consoles separately.

But when versions of “Guitar Hero III” for all four major consoles are combined, the game is a dominant No. 1. Activision bragged in an ad earlier this week that it grossed more than $115 million in its first week.

“Guitar Hero III” sales are particularly impressive given that the game came out at the end of the month and only had six days on shelves in NPD’s data.

It’s already the eighth bestselling game of the year. “Halo 3” is No. 1 at 3.7 million units, followed by Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL” at 3.2 million and, in further good news for Activision, 2006 release “Guitar Hero 2” with 2.8 million.

Strong perf of the “Guitar Hero” franchise seems to validate Activision’s decision to purchase the game’s publisher, RedOctane, last year for $100 million, as well as its assignment of “Guitar Hero III” to its internal development studio NeverSoft after the original developer Harmonix was acquired by MTV last year. Harmonix and MTV’s new competing game, “Rock Band,” comes out next week.

Only other new games to make the top 10 were Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass” at No. 5 with 263,000 units; EA’s “The Orange Box,” No. 6 at 238,000; and EA’s “FIFA Soccer ’08” for PlayStation 2, which came in No. 9 and sold 130,000 units.

After it was bested by the Xbox 360 in September due to the “Halo 3,” release, Nintendo’s Wii returned to its consistent top spot among consoles, selling 519,000 units. The 360 was well behind at 366,000, while Sony’s PS3 was, once again, a distant third at 121,000. Sony’s PlayStation 2 is also staying in the mix, selling 184,000.

Sony cut the price of the PS3 in early November by $100 and CEO Howard Stringer recently told the Associated Press that U.S. sales have doubled since the reduction.

Among handheld vidgame consoles, Nintendo’s DS was again a comfortable No. 1 at 458,000 units. Sony’s sold 286,000 PSPs.

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