Summary:

Less than a month after Metallica fans got to thrash out their own versions of Enter the Sandman while playing Guitar Hero: Metallica, comes…

imageLess than a month after Metallica fans got to thrash out their own versions of Enter the Sandman while playing Guitar Hero: Metallica, comes news about the next installment in Activision’s best-selling music game franchise: Guitar Hero: Van Halen.

Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) hasn’t formally announced a release date, an official title — or even acknowledged the game’s existence — but details have been creeping out ever since CEO Bobby Kotick suggested Van Halen as a possible Guitar Hero headliner at a conference last year. The most recent leak comes from Gamestop; an employee tipped Kotaku off to the fact that the game’s on the pre-order list with a sale date of July 28. And according to other reports, it will be one of five new titles in the franchise that Activision plans to roll out later this year (via Eurogamer).

The company has had tremendous success with Guitar Hero: the Metallica installment nearly cracked NPD’s top-10 best-seller list for March, despite only being available for the last week of the month, and Guitar Hero III topped the $1 billion sales mark in January. But judging from some negative gamer reactions around the web (and slower growth in music game sales overall), the franchise may be losing some of its luster: “That list of bands that should never get Guitar Hero games is coming true. Next, it’ll be Guitar Hero: Coldplay. God help us all,” wrote one Kotaku reader. And on Joystiq: “Ugggg I am so sick of these band games. Just release a f–ing download. I don’t need a whole game.”

But Activision certainly isn’t acting like the franchise is on the downward swing. The company recently brought in *Yahoo* vet Dan Rosensweig to head up the Guitar Hero division, and told investors that it would beat its Q1 sales forecasts — partly due to strong sales of Guitar Hero.

Photo Credit: tinyfroglet

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