Rock Band sales sting Viacom

Game blamed for sales decline; talks under way for new distribution deal for franchise

Media giant Viacom has said that it will be more selective with future content released for its Rock Band franchise, focusing more on software for the game rather than additional hardware.

The comments come as the company revealed that while profits were up in the fourth quarter from $173 million to $694 million, sales were down 3 per cent year-on-year to $4.1 billion – with Rock Band blamed for the decline.

"It certainly was a challenging year in 2009 for the videogame industry in general and certainly for our Rock Band franchise," said Philippe Dauman, speaking during an investors conference call.

"As we go forward, we are continuing to focus more on software than hardware, looking to reduce the cost structure associated with Rock Band, being selective in the music titles that we choose for Rock Band based on their cost. The music industry will have to assist with this category to make sure that it can continue on a profitable basis in the future, and then finally, we think we have the best games in the category, we'll continue to roll out exciting products," he added.

While Viacom's distribution deal with Electronic Arts comes is scheduled to finish this year, Viacom said it was currently in talks over a new box-shifting deal. EA said earlier this week that intends to cut down on releasing product with third-party partners.

"As far as Rock Band distribution, EA is continuing to distribute our products, our products notwithstanding the issues in the industry and in the category last year, is still a very strong product. We are in discussion to evaluate future distribution relationship, and we’ll let you know when that is determined," said Dauman.

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