Rock Band 3: Here's HopingA little history. Please note that these numbers are U.S. sales only.
--released on November 20, 2007 for the 360
--sold 311,000 units in November (360 only--other platforms released later)
--sold over 4 million units (all platforms) by October 9, 2008
Rock Band 2
--released September 14, 2008 for the 360
--sold 363,000 units in September. #3 in NPD sales for the month (360 only).
--released October 19, 2008 for the PS3
--sold 118,000 units for the PS3 in October. #16 in NPD sales for the month (PS3 only).
--released December 18, 2008 for the Wii
--sold 150,000 units for the Wii in December.
--first month combined sales (all three platforms, roughly two weeks for each platform): 631,000
Yes, I know that's scotch-taping "first month combined sales," because they didn't release simultaneously. Bear with me.
The Beatles: Rock Band
--released September 9, 2009 (all platforms)
--first month sales (combined): 597,200, with roughly one additional week of sales compared to that Rock Band 2 number I Frankensteined.
--if NPD had been combining sales data across platforms back then (as it does now), TB:RB would have been the #2 game for the month, behind only Halo: ADHD (that would be the perfect name, wouldn't it?).
As an aside, The Beatles: Rock Band was a masterpiece. An absolute, full-blown masterpiece.
So, we come to Rock Band 3. It was #15 in combined sales (although, to be fair, there were only six days of sales in October).
We know that #10 (WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011) sold 225,000 units units for the month. However, the decay rate between #10 and #15 (based on some digging around in the data over at the Video Game Sales Wiki) appears to roughly be in the range of 20-25%.
That would put total Rock Band 3 sales in the 160,000-180,000 range. Again, you can look at how I arrived at that number and disagree, but regardless, even the highest possible number (based on #10 being 225k) isn't good. I'm willing to bet that Rock Band 3, even after adjusting for the release date, is selling at less than half the rate of The Beatles: Rock Band.
There are several possible mitigating factors here:
--only six days of sales
--music games can have long tails in sales terms
--maybe people are just waiting for the Squier
Here's the problem with the "waiting for the Squier" theory, though: more people are waiting for a $300 peripheral bundle than they were for a $60 game? Don't get me wrong--I want to be #1 in line for a Squier--but in a mass market sense, it's hard to see that generating significant sales.
Like I've said many times, this is my favorite franchise in gaming history, and Harmonix is incredibly talented, so if anyone survives in this genre, they will. These numbers are ugly, but RB3 is a terrific game, and I always hope that quality wins out in the end.