My Love/Hate Relationship With Collector's Editions
Collector’s Editions! Are you a fan? I certainly am. I have more plastic representations of my favourite game characters and in game items than I know what to do with. They very proudly took up all my shelf space in my large living room in Dublin. They currently sit in my Aunt and Uncle’s attic waiting for an opportunity to be moved to London (all very carefully wrapped in bubble wrap of course).
My love of these expensive video game editions goes back many years and has gone a bit too far on some occasions. I remember hunting down the Prestige Editions of Call of Duty games on eBay. My greatest triumph was probably finally adding the Big Daddy from the original BioShock Collector’s Edition to my set after my local game store failed to stock that edition. That one can be hard to find and fetches a decent price.
Why am I so willing to spend two or even three times the price of a game just to get some cheap plastic rubbish that is not as rare as I like to believe it is? Why do I have two plastic Sam Fishers on my shelf and why did I go so far as to import the Ultimate Songbird Edition of BioShock Infinite from Germany when I couldn’t get it more locally?
With game distribution ever shifting towards the digital, physical collector’s editions should be a thing of the past surely? In game extras will be the only extra soon one might assume. Well, I don’t think that is so true. As long as people will buy the glorified rubbish, developers will keep selling it. The problem is that it is not rubbish. It has the value that people will put on it just like anything else. Whenever one of these overpriced behemoths is announced however, countless detractors will start exclaiming (often accurately) how ludicrously expensive it is. Others like me, remain silent and then pre-order as soon as we possibly can.
There seem to be two categories for rarity. “Sold out instantly and never found again”. As well as “still in the shop a year later and impossible to shift”. As a result I have ended up feeling rather pleased with myself as well as rather stupid in the days after a launch. The chance however that this game could end up being one of the rare ones and the fact that you can’t be guaranteed the collector’s edition the next day are one of the very few justifications left for pre-orders to even exist, although that is a discussion for another day.
I hunted this for longer than I care to admit
I have something of a love/hate relationship with collector’s editions. I love to own them when they exist, but I hate having to buy them. I want to remove any chance that the fear of regretting not buying one when I had the opportunity will become a reality. I show them off to my friends but at the same time feel slightly stupid that they had the willpower not to buy such rubbish. I know that they are barely worth the plastic they are made from if I was honest about it and yet will bid on rarer items happily with my spare and not so spare money. Despite my large collection and the buzz I get from unboxing a new set, I have really grown to hate these money spinners. I have started to really wish that we could just have regular game copies and take the temptation away.
Why am I really angry about it, when I could very simply just stop buying them? I feel frustrated that my consumerist mind that needs to have the best edition is being taken advantage of.
For years I displayed them in my living room and always had a great sense of pride whenever people came in for the first time and admired my collection.
If I was honest with myself of course however, it is my own fault and I should be mad at myself. I do actually get enjoyment out of owning all these things. For years I displayed them in my living room and always had a great sense of pride whenever people came in for the first time and admired my collection. Most of the art books and soundtracks were used exactly once and now simply sit stacked behind the statues and more impressive pieces, but knowing that they are there for whenever I want is what I like about having them, even if I never will want to use them again. I do get a benefit from them mentally. What frustrates me then is that the marketing is too good. The pricing hits a sweet spot that entices me to buy it while still being unfathomably overpriced. While one must admire that in a way, it is a fad that leaves some like myself out of pocket.
Some of them aren't even tasteful
There are very different types of collector's editions. Paying ten pounds extra for an artbook and soundtrack that are otherwise unavailable might be appealing. Even twice the price for a particularly creative and unique item could be justified, but three times the price for a cheap pair of night vision goggles or a horrifically painted and badly produced statue, not so much. Others, like the Dead Island Riptide collector's editions are just bizarre.
Even though there is a part of me that loves these collector’s editions, I fear that they take way from the focus on the game itself. I want to get excited about the game again and not about the plastic dragon that comes in the box. When BioShock was announced and I first saw footage of it, I got incredibly excited about it. It just seemed like it was going to tick all the right boxes for me.
I pre-ordered the collector’s edition in my local retailer but when release day came all they had was the metal box version. The day became about my disappointment at not being allowed to spend an extra 50 or more pounds for a hunk of plastic rather than the joy of finally getting to play this game. The lack of the collector’s items had become more important than the presence of the game itself. The focus simply is being taken away from the true reason why we all love our hobby – the games. While I do still like the pure materialistic ownership of these items, I have started to view collector’s editions as something of a plight upon our hobby that is doing more harm than good.
So why do collector’s editions exist? The reason is simply that people like me buy them even when we know better. I don’t see the move to complete digital distribution being finished anytime soon and I don’t want it to as I like having my game discs (perhaps I am just very materialistic in general), but if physical distribution of games ever does die, a part of me will secretly be glad that I will never have to buy another statue of an assassin ever again.