According to smarty-pants, thinking-type analyst-type people, upcoming music game like Guitar Hero but with a turntable instead, DJ Hero, may not do as well as its publishers hope.

This man thinks you should be spending a lot more on games than you already are...

This man thinks you should be spending a lot more on games than you already are...

There are a lot of factors involved here: DJ Hero is much more of a niche title than say, Guitar Hero. The simple appeal of playing rock and metal songs on a plastic guitar is, in one opinion, far greater than the idea behind pressing buttons on a faux turntable to mix songs together. The other thing to keep in mind, is that with games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, companies have started their inexorable march towards turning games into services, so that customers subscribe and purchase content continually, instead of buying each year’s new iterative release.

Unfortunately, these publishers are still “toaster men” (people who sold toasters before selling games), and are attempting to have both the subscriber model, and the yearly upgrade. As a result, consumers are forced to shell out a lot more money than they’d like, and perhaps the music genre of games has reached a saturation point. Of course, a simpler explanation may be the price tag: DJ Hero will launch in the US with a hefty $120 price-tag, compared to  the $90 that Guitar Hero launched at.

To quote the entire linked article for context:

Demand for Activision’s DJ Hero in the US is “well below” expectations for the game to become even a modest success, according to analyst Doug Creutz of Cowan and Company.

The company believes that the slow down in sales of music games is not a blip, and that casual and mainstream gamers are put off by the high price of music titles during a recession, while the buzz surrounding titles such as Guitar Hero has faded.

“On DJ Hero, despite some recent positive comments from company management about pre-orders, we remain very cautious about the title’s prospects at launch,” wrote Creutz in a note to investors.

“A survey of online retailers indicates a demand profile that is well below what we would have expected to see just a few days before launch for a title that was destined to be a big (or even modest) success.”

Creutz anticipates that DJ Hero will only sell 600,000 units in the US during the fourth quarter, down one million units compared to Cowan’s previous 1.6m estimate, with full year sales at 950,000, instead of 2.5 million.

However, he added that the sequels to DJ Hero will help the game become more established, and it will eventually become a significant spin-off for Activision.

“We still believe that DJ Hero will be an important part of Activision Blizzard’s music franchise strategy, but we think it may take a few versions of the game for it to reach its full market potential (similar to the original Guitar Hero).”

Following a poor September for music game sales, Creutz is also reducing estimates for combined DJ Hero, Guitar Hero 5 and Band Hero sales by over 50 per cent, from $408 million to $199 million during the 2009 calender year.

As well as a decline in Wii sales to mass-market consumers – which was a key platform for Guitar Hero – MTV’s The Beatles: Rock Band took a significant share of the market from Guitar Hero 5, added Creutz, and the hype surrounding the Hero franchise has died down.

“We probably underestimated the extent to which the 2007-08 peak in Guitar Hero unit sales was driven by the extreme amount of buzz around the product,” offered Creutz. “In retrospect Guitar Hero III likely attracted a lot of one-time buyers (that have not returned for subsequent franchise instalments) due to its ‘it-game’ status at the time.”

While it may look glum now, the developer of DJ Hero expects things to improve as time goes by.

“We’re not expecting a typical videogame curve where you sell the majority of the units in the first month and then it decays quickly,” Huang told IGN.

“We’re expecting this to be the type of game that may come out of the gate a little bit slower, but continue to grow over time.”

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