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MTV takes a stand on ‘Rock Band’

Xbox 360 game to battle 'Guitar Hero' this fall

Round two of the battle of the videogame bands is gearing up for fall as MTV disclosed plans Monday to release “Rock Band 2” in September.

It will go up against Activision’s “Guitar Hero: On Tour,” which is set for release in October and will, for the first time in the franchise’s history, include drum and singing peripherals like those in “Rock Band.”

“Rock Band 2” was widely expected, though MTV and developer Harmonix surprised the biz by also announcing a deal with Microsoft to release the game exclusively for the Xbox 360 in its first few months.

MTV only said “Rock Band 2” would be available for Sony’s PlayStation 2 and 3 and Nintendo’s Wii “later this year,” which most likely means in November or December to give them a brief sales window before the holidays.

As is standard with such deals, Microsoft will pay MTV either directly or indirectly (via marketing support) in exchange for the exclusivity. Company hopes “Rock Band 2,” along with its own “Gears of War 2” and a price cut that’s expected later this month, will help it regain the sales lead recently lost to Sony’s PS3.

Company didn’t release many details on “Rock Band 2” but will preview the game for journalists and industry insiders at the E3 confab in two weeks. Game is expected to be fundamentally similar to the original “Rock Band” and feature improvements to the instrument controllers, interface and online functionality.

Last year, Activision’s “Guitar Hero 3” handily beat “Rock Band,” though the debut of MTV’s music game franchise has sold a solid 3 million units.

“Rock Band” users have also bought 15 million songs to download and play in the game.

Electronic Arts will distribute “Rock Band 2” for MTV.

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