In the past few years collector’s edition releases of major videogames have become a popular way for publishers to convince hardcore fans to part with a little extra cash. An extra £5-10 for a fancy tin box, an artbook and an extra disc with behind-the-scenes development footage is a pretty easy sell. The cheap approach, often used to entice pre-orders, is free-to-produce in-game content like an extra outfit or gold guns (yes, that happened). This year, all that has changed as videogame publishers have decided to up the ante.
The price of a collector’s edition game has rocketed to around £60-70, which in a recessionary year may seem either ill-advised or a blatant attempt to bolter lacklustre mid-year sales by cashing in doubly over the always-busy Christmas period. But the contents are a world away from the old fancy box and book. Batman: Arkham Asylum includes a fullsize batarang (that’s 14” of vigilante justice, one supposes, in marketing speak) for the proud owner to display/fight crime. The “black edition” of Assassin’s Creed II contains an 8.5” statue of protagonist Ezio as well as the game’s soundtrack on CD (and I’ll be honest, I’m tempted by this one). But the crowning jewel of this year’s line-up is the £120 “prestige edition” of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which comes with fully working night vision goggles. Seriously. If next year’s Dragon Age: Origins doesn’t come with a real dragon egg, I suspect fans will feel cheated.
I’m a collector, I understand the mentality and, if we can find the right price-point for this stuff, it’s no bad thing. At least it’s real stuff we’re being offered. Unlike the new clothing and accessories for sale in Microsoft’s new Xbox Avatar Store. Paying a little to express oneself digitally is okay, but this stuff is all really advertising so I find the future plans to unlock related clothes through in-game achievements far more appealing. The problem again is pricing. 80 points (about 70p) for a t-shirt or a hat might be okay. But it shows that they know us far too well when they charge 400 points (about £3.50) for a virtual lightsabre, and it almost seems worth it.