Investment analyst Ben Schachter of UBS has been poring over the sales figures of Guitar Hero and Rock Band in the US, and has found that the Activision Blizzard series outsold the EA games by over a million copies in November.

The picture isn't quite as clear-cut as it seems, though. Schachter - as quoted by GameSpot - found that Guitar Hero sales are in decline compared to last year, while Rock Band's are increasing sharply. Overall, the huge US market for music games created by the original Guitar Hero seems to be in decline.

Over 1.7 million Guitar Hero games of all versions and formats were sold in the US in November, of which 978,000 were copies of the latest version, Guitar Hero World Tour. This compares with 628,452 copies of Rock Band and Rock Band 2.

However, Guitar Hero sales were down 25.3 per cent on November 2007, versus a very healthy increase of 64.7 per cent for Rock Band. The combined sales of both games fell 12 per cent from last year, leading Schachter to speculate that the market might be saturated.

"This will fuel concerns that the genre is past its peak," he said. "With Activision and others sure to bring new innovation to the genre next year we can't count it out, but it almost certainly won't be the growth driver it has been over the past two years."

However, with these games game sales aren't the whole picture. It recently came to light that more than 28 million songs had been downloaded for Rock Band from the Xbox Live and PlayStation Network stores.

That's many millions of dollars in additional revenue from music-hungry game fans, so perhaps investors shouldn't be too quick to chuck the plastic guitars in the bin.

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Oli Welsh

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Oli is the editor of Eurogamer.net and likes to take things one word at a time. His friends call him The European, but that's just a coincidence. He's still playing Diablo 3.

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