In a move sure to resonate with recession-minded gamers, Activision's just-released Guitar Hero 5 game includes an offer to get the highly anticipated Van Halen version of the music game franchise for free.
As a value-based pushback against the Beatles: Rock Band juggernaut, it's an excellent idea. Guitar Hero 5 includes 85 tracks (versus just 45 in the Beatles game), plus 44 more in the Van Halen spin-off.
Guitar Hero 5 includes acts from Johnny Cash to Stevie Wonder to Tom Petty, while Guitar Hero: Van Halen has 25 classic VH songs, plus 19 more from "guest acts" such as The Clash and Deep Purple. If you're a VH superfan, note that the game reportedly excludes former members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, but does include current bassist Wolfgang Van Halen.
The free Van Halen game offer can be redeemed, according to the sticker affixed to the cover of our copy of Guitar Hero 5, by going to guitarhero.com/vanhalengameoffer and filling out an online form, including a unique serial number from the back of the Guitar Hero 5 instruction booklet.
The offer is good until October 1, and says to "allow up to six weeks for delivery," which should still put the Van Halen game in your hands before its official December 22 release date.
Update: After hearing from a few readers, we tried filling out the online form and got the following error message: "We're sorry, but due to overwhelming response we are having difficulties validating your code at this time. Please try again." A few hours later, we were able to complete the process, which ends with a printable form that has to be snail-mailed into a P.O. Box.