It’s Guitar Hero 3 week here at videolamer, at least for me. I’ll be sprinkling the site with various blog posts (and eventually the big review) all week. Today we start with a minor, interesting issue made major and critical. It appears that many (or all) of the PS2 and 360 bundles being sold at Walmart and potentially a few other stores are being sold not with the new Kramer and Les Paul controllers respectively, but with older model SGs and Xplorers. Naturally, the internet is blowing itself up over it.
This leads to a few questions. First, why was this bundle made? It certainly was not a packaging mistake. The only logical answer I can think of is that they are being sold to retailers for less so that Walmart can get the price edge over competitors. My other thought is that being the largest retailer of games in the world, Walmart as a company requested more copies than Red Octane could handle. Cue all the old model controllers they had lying around.
I believe that the second option is most likely. Walmart does get exclusive goodies and even games some times (Chibi Robo DS?), but they don’t seem to follow the practice of selling cheaper and inferior products in the gaming aisle. Also, any long time fan of Guitar Hero will know that when the first game came out it was difficult to find copies of it after it started to take off, and only recently have I been able to locate non bundled Xplorers in the wild. In both cases the answer is the same – these damn controllers are not as easy to manufacture as pressing some discs, even if the game has been ready for quite some time.
The next question is with gamers themselves who got “screwed over” because of this. It’s one thing if Walmart is your only option in Smalltown USA (trust me, I’ve been there), and you have to go out of your way for the regular bundles. But all the pictures I’ve seen of the crappy bundles clearly state that they do not include the Les Paul or the Kramer. There’s a picture of the damn guitars on there for your to see!
Don’t give me the excuse that you were too excited to bother reading any part of the box. From what I see it is pretty clearly labeled, and even if I weren’t trying to read I think that the picture of the Cherry Red would catch my eye. Don’t blame Walmart for your own stupidity.
Now to backpedal. I have read one fair argument about this fiasco, and that is that unsuspecting mainstream consumers with no great knowledge of the game might not realize why the box is boasting a “classic red” controller, and would be suckered into buying it. For this reason alone I will complain about these bundles. Imagine that, a gamer siding with the “masses” instead of his brethren. It isn’t too hard when the ones that should know better don’t seem to.
So, strike one for Red Octane and Walmart (and possibly Activision). I guess this is the lesson we learn for making a pricey peripheral based rhythm game go from niche title to industry leading product. It will be interesting to see if Walmart continues to sell these, or if they will be phased out once more Les Pauls and Kramers can be built.
Next entry, we’ll take a look at the Guitar Hero website, which if it doesn’t get its act together will be strike two.