Guitar Hero III is biggest grossing retail title ever in US

Music game brings in more in first-hand sales than any other

A chart of the highest-grossing titles at US retail compiled by NPD has put Guitar Hero III in first place, outperforming Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2 and Wii Fit.

The list considers revenue, not profit, and includes the various bundles of Guitar Hero III which came with a guitar, bumping up the price considerably. Nonetheless, Guitar Hero III brought in $830.9 million in revenue for Activision in North American first-hand retail alone.

Call of Duty: Black Ops sits at second on $787.4 million, but that title is still very much on sale, and may outperform Warriors of Rock before too long.

The full list, published by CNBC, shows Activision in a dominant position, occupying five out the ten top spots. Three Call of Duty titles are present, as is Guitar Hero World Tour. Nintendo takes four spots, with Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, Mario Kart Wii and Wii Play. The final position is held by Viacom's Rock Band at fifth.

It's perhaps no surprise that so many titles which were bundled with relatively expensive peripherals are included in the list, and the eventual fate of Guitar Hero demonstrates how consumer appetite for high price points has changed over recent years.

These figures have only been collected since 1995, and do not take into account any adjustments due to inflation. Games bundled with consoles are also excluded. Were games sold with a system included, Nintendo's Wii Sports becomes by far the biggest winner, both in unit and revenue terms. CNBC reports the latest Nintendo figures as indicating that 75.66 million Wii systems with bundled copies of Wii Sports have been sold so far in the US.

Full list of the top ten titles by first hand retail revenue below:

  • 1. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock $830.9 million
  • 2. Call of Duty: Black Ops $787.4 million
  • 3. Wii Fit (inc: Balance Board) $736.6 million
  • 4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 $713.6 million
  • 5. Rock Band $670.7 million
  • 6. Wii Play (inc: Wii Remote)
  • 7. Guitar Hero World Tour
  • 8. Wii Fit Plus
  • 9. Mario Kart Wii (inc: Wii Wheel)
  • 10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

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Latest comments (1)

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief5 years ago
You're absolutely right to emphasise that this is a revenue list: games that come bundled with peripherals have lower gross margins than those that don't. If you looked at the gross profits list, after cost of distribution/manufacturing, I suspect you would get a very different answer.
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