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Tales from the Bargain Bin

New games can cost quite a bundle, which is why it’s sometimes preferable to go fishing inside the bargain bin for something instead. Typically, anything $20 and under is in the bin along with older games (repackaged as a ‘Greatest Hits’ edition) or games that, for whatever reason, floundered shortly after launch (see: Duke Nukem Forever). The bulk of any bargain bin is devoted to shovelware that has no hope of ever making a sale.

Every gamer at some point in their life has plunged their hand into the dark depths hoping to find a shining gem among the dozens of uninteresting and/or horrible titles. Time after time I pull up fistfuls of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and AC/DC LIVE: Rock Band Track Pack. It doesn’t matter where the discounts are, there’s a strong chance there are enough copies of each game to pitch a tent out of.

It’s hard not to take notice of how many copies are languishing in bargain bins around the country, possibly the world for all I know. The reason they’re in the bucket is pretty obvious–they’re shameless cash-ins on a fad that went bust when Activision started milking the cow a little too hard, and a huge over-estimation of the appeal of said bands to the masses.

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Curiously, I don’t see anywhere near the volume of bargain bin copies of other Rock Band and Guitar Hero titles despite being as bad or worse. So whenever I see a copy of each, I’m immediately reminded of how over-saturated the market became after Guitar Hero‘s massive success and its inevitable fall from visibility. Granted there are plenty of knock-off rhythm games in the bin as well, but in no particularly noticeable patter.

And who could really blame consumers for passing on both when they could’ve easily been released as DLC instead of full retail editions at a fraction of the cost? I’m not saying such a move could’ve prevented rhythm games from jumping the shark as a whole, but at least it would’ve saved the publishers some embarassment as least. Not to mention a boatload of copies taking up space, too. Perhaps in a few years they’ll pull an E.T. and bury them all in a landfill somewhere, never to be seen again. It would only make sense given the sheer volume of unbought copies.

A lot of why games get unceremoniously dumped into the bargain bin comes down to two important factors: time and quality. However, sometimes that’s not the case. A bargain bin title might have more to say than what potential consumers think as they walk by. In this case, it’s how an entire genre (and both franchises) managed to get killed off because a publisher was penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

Gentle persuasion

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