This is supposed to be a good day for wannabe rockers. Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) The Beatles: Rock Band hits stores today with the promise of wooing a new set of baby boomers to the video-game niche. The company will aim much younger in two months, when it hits the market with a Lego-themed Rock Band title.

Not to be outdone, Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) released Guitar Hero 5 last week. The genre-defining franchise will also be back in December with a Van Halen-specific version of the game.

However, the industry appears to be running on fumes. Activision is offering anyone who snaps up Guitar Hero 5 this month a free copy of the Van Halen title.

In the words of David Lee Roth:

I've been to the edge, and there I stood and looked down.
You know I lost a lot of friends there baby, I got no time to mess around.

 -- Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"

Viacom and Activision have been milking the trend for a few years. Fans not only buy the games but also pay as much as $2 for digital downloads of additional songs. GameStop (NYSE:GME) and rival retailers have also thrived, as software purchases are accompanied by guitar, drum-kit, and microphone controllers. The rhythmic trend posed an initial stocking challenge for the small-box chain, but GameStop won't have a problem if the niche peaked last year.

Video-game hardware and software sales have fallen for five consecutive months through the end of July. A major reason for the letdown has to be waning demand for the music titles. At the very least, even if the new software does sell, diehard gamers already have the guitar controllers and faux drum sets.    

The Beatles: Rock Band will clearly test that theory. The $250 bundle includes a Ringo Starr kit and a Paul McCartney bass, with John Lennon and George Harrison guitar controllers available for $99 apiece. How many diehard gamers -- or Beatles fanatics -- will fork over $450 for the complete package?

The most popular versions of the game, according to's (NASDAQ:AMZN) bestseller list, are the three "software only" releases that Amazon is selling at a 10% discount to the $60 retail price. Don't take it personally, Liverpool lads.

Sifting deeper into Amazon, one can also see that Guitar Hero 5 isn't off to a rousing start among customer reviews. The average rating is a tepid three out of five stars, with many of the negative reviews coming from gamers who appear to be tiring with the genre.

Can the Beatles save the niche? Is it too late? Is the genre as dead as Eleanor Rigby? This month promises the answers.

Some other tales of Activision Blizzard glory:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders why his son always kicks his axe when they have a Guitar Hero face-off. Rick owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it could beat Jordan in Expert mode if it had to.