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Guitar Hero and Wally World

posted on October 29th, 2007 by christian

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.

5 Comments

  1. GoldenJew said on October 29, 2007:

    Oh, Christian, you strike first… but don’t worry, the Jewish empire will strike back. My blog post on Best Buy’s retardedness (expressed via their guitar hero 3 policies) will rock you harder than Tom Morello AND Slash.

    Also, my review will be longer and more boring than yours. Take that!

  2. Stefan said on October 29, 2007:

    Okay, I’ve played my share of Guitar Hero at parties and friend’s houses, but I’ve never owned a copy myself. If I walked into a store, said “Do you guys have the new Guitar Hero”, and was pointed to this box by an employee, then it seems pretty reasonable to assume that I only have to check two things.

    1) That it is in fact Guitar Hero III

    2) That the box I’m going to buy is for my console

    At that point, I’d probably go buy it.

    Prior to these stories, I haven’t heard anything about having to pick between wired and wireless controller options in the bundle, so it seems like it would have been a pretty safe assumption that GHIII came with wireless controllers. Even if I read the box and saw “classic red”, my first impression probably would have been that it was the red color or guitar body shape that was classic – not that “classic” means “without wireless functionality”. Since I have not purchased my own controller before, the term SG would mean little to me.

    Sure I’d be kicking myself when I got home, and I’d feel stupid for not having read the box more closely or done more background research. The fact that an educated consumer can recognize and avoid trickery, however, does nothing to justify it.

  3. christian said on October 29, 2007:

    Stefan, I agree, which is why I said that this deal ultimately blows for people not familiar with the franchise. For people who consider themselves fans, it has been known for a while that the game was coming out with new wireless controllers, and these wired ones Walmart is giving away were featured in older games. If they saw classic red on the box, they should know better.

    Mostly I’m just curious as to the manufacturing and logistics of this ordeal.

  4. GoldenJew said on October 29, 2007:

    Meanwhile… in a nameless third world Asian country… hundreds of schoolchildren work 24/7, being caught in machinery, to produce you the wireless guitars you so crave.

  5. christian said on October 29, 2007:

    That’s the price of the beautiful les paul

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