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'Rock Band' launches, 'Guitar Hero' trembles

Despite the huge success of "Guitar Hero III," the release of "Rock Band" by the franchise's original developer could mean real competition.

One hundred fifteen million dollars.

That was how much revenue Activision's Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock brought in in its first week on the market recently.

But the Guitar Hero franchise, which Activision bought in 2006, has lost its monopoly as the only major video game giving users the fantasy that they can join Steven Tyler or Bono onstage.

'Rock Band' includes dozens of hit songs, including one by the Rolling Stones. Amazon

That's because Harmonix, the studio that developed the original Guitar Hero, has finally launched Rock Band, its own version of the rock star genre game, and the market is likely to heat up pretty quickly.

Many Guitar Hero fans still consider Harmonix--which is owned by MTV--the real deal, and so many of them are likely to eschew the new Guitar Hero in favor of Rock Band. Others will choose both games, and I can imagine dueling Guitar Hero, Rock Band competitions in bars, at parties, and even on TV.

Well, maybe not on TV.

It will be very interesting to see if Rock Band can come anywhere near the first-week sales figures of Guitar Hero III. My guess is it won't get there, only because of the name-brand recognition of the latter. But I'm willing to be surprised. There's definitely something to be said for true bloodlines, which is what Rock Band and Harmonix have going for them, even if they doesn't have the hit name anymore.

Either way, competition is good, and the end result is likely to be stronger versions of the games when both Activision and MTV issue the next iterations of their dueling titles.

Stand back. It's going to be guitar battles to the death.