Let’s Talk About Collector’s Editions of Video Games

Back in 2007, the hype surrounding Halo 3 was massive. This was going to be the biggest and best-selling media launch of all-time. In particular, the hardest of hardcore gamers were salivating over the Legendary Edition of Halo 3, which featured of all things, a miniature replica of Master Chief’s helmet. Video game collector’s editions were still new at the time, and we’d never seen anything this epic (or expensive) before.

Part of the appeal in the Legendary Edition was the fact that it was supposed to be super rare. Instead, it stands as one of the biggest jokes in the short history of video game collector’s editions. I can name multiple stores in my city that have these in stock right now, collecting dust on the shelf at 1/3 of the original asking price. Even at that price point, retailers still can’t rid of them. If you paid $150 for it at launch in hopes of getting something truly special, I bet you’re bitter that the monetary and financial value of this set has dropped dramatically.

In a perfect world, I love the idea of collector’s editions of games. I love the idea of getting extra stuff for a game I love that is limited in supply. However, I can’t shake the slimy feeling that the majority of collector’s editions are nothing more than a marketing ploy to make consumers pay more for the same game in exchange for a few trinkets that raise the game’s overall profit margin.

Most collector’s editions aren’t that special at all. A lot of these are nothing more than an extra DVD with behind-the-scenes footage or download codes for in-game content, which will be available to everyone else within a few months anyway. In rare instances, publishers actually pack in something cooler than the game itself, such as the night vision goggles for Modern Warfare 2 or the Hori joystick with Tekken 6, but these instances are few and far between.

It also doesn’t help when just about every game on the market now comes with a collector’s edition SKU. Who really wants a collector’s edition for Turning Point: Fall of Liberty? This was a game that I got for free, but was so bad I still traded it in. Who wants a collector’s edition for Prey? Why should anyone care about the special editions of those, when the game itself sucks?

Collector’s editions are oftentimes more expensive than they should be, too. I guarantee the production costs for that Halo 3 Legendary Edition aren’t anywhere near the $150 per unit it was initially sold at. Yet, publishers feel they can get away with this because this version is supposedly limited, therefore, worth more money. In the case of Halo, the joke is on retailers who still have these taking up too much shelf space and the consumers who spent way too much on the Legendary Edition, only to see the value of their investment plummet to virtually nothing.

I find it weird that publisher’s make more collector’s editions than necessary and retailers buy more than enough to meet the demand. My local EB Games still has about 30 Call of Duty: World at War collector’s editions taking up space along a rack. As mentioned earlier, I still see Halo 3 Legendary Editions everywhere. I’ve recently seen the Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition at a local Walmart. I remember when the CEO of Viacom said that the $250 limited edition Beatles Rock Band set would be sold out by November of that year. Almost a year later, every store that sells video games that I’ve been to still have the XBOX 360 or Playstation 3 versions of this set and couldn’t give them away if they tried. By not making these limited editions actually limited, you’re taking away any sort of specialness that the fancy packing, packed-in extras and huge price tag give the product.

The only collector’s edition I’ve ever bought was for Tekken 6, which was very weird. I don’t actually like Tekken, but the collector’s edition came with a Hori fightstick. I was in the market for a fightstick, and the collector’s edition was so heavily discounted that it would have been cheaper to buy the collector’s edition than buy a similar Hori stick separately. The fact that I bought it under these circumstances still means that this collector’s edition still failed at capturing what’s supposed to make a collector’s edition special if I was able to find it in stores a year later at less than half price.

Until the value proposition makes sense for me as a consumer, I will actively avoid collector’s editions of games. I will not fall for your trinkets, your fancy packaging or your limited time offer messaging. Offer me something that’s actually worth collecting for a game I love, then we’ll talk. What’s your stance on video game collector’s editions? Leave a comment below!

One thought on “Let’s Talk About Collector’s Editions of Video Games

  1. Gil September 20, 2010 / 10:27 AM

    I believe collector’s editions used to be special. Now they are just “alternate” editions with higher price points. It’s very obvious why they are mostly termed collector’s editions or special editions because if they said it was “limited” they would totally be lying. The Halo 3 Legendary edition is proof of that. I still see that edition on shelves from time to time. Perhaps the term legendary in this instance means most common version because that’s kind of what it is. I don’t deny owning this version of the game but when I was actually in the market for 360 games, Halo 3 Legendary was going for roughly the same price as the standard edition. In that case it was a no brainer.

    I think collector’s/special/limited editions are a nice option for the people who really care about the games that they are made for. For me I’d probably buy every Metroid and Castlevania collector’s edition out there if I could. I just wished they would actually be produced in limited quantities like a limited edition should be. Great example would be the Dead Space Ultra Limited Edition. I think a total of 1000 were made. Another example would be the Devil May Cry 4 Signed Collector’s Edition. Only 200 total were made (100 PS3 100 360). They were divided out randomly and those who purchased a collector’s edition had a very slim chance to get one of these bad boys.

    Personally I think Collector’s editions should be very very limited and only be available during special events or random lotteries from the official site or something along those lines. I don’t believe they should be purchased. Aaaand I’m out 😀

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