The Do’s and Don’ts of Collector Editions
Everybody loves a good collector’s edition. We have rooms full of them, and banks empty because of them. It’s something that we love to brag about. We place our most prized pieces on a mantle and bask in their glory. But what is it that we love so much about them or why we cherish some over others? Well it might be hard to pinpoint but that doesn’t stop me trying to find out.
For me, some of the best collector’s editions come with something that lasts. A steelbook case coupled with a few codes normally suffices as a limited edition but the more than exemplary editions go that little bit further. They come with a statue or some form of model. My favourite happens to be the Arkham City limited edition although it is a very bitter-sweet relationship I share with it. The Arkham City collectors edition can be considered the cream of the crop when you consider it came with not only a Kotobukiya statue of the Batman himself, but also many other extras that came with like a Gotham Knight animated movie, a soundtrack, artbook and some DLC. All of these, when priced well, make for the perfect collectors edition.
Then again there was something that irked me about Batman Arkham City that I just couldn’t quite get over, as small as it may be. What I am talking about is the lack of the Robin DLC in the collector’s edition. Now Batman isn’t the only culprit here. Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Dead or Alive 5 and a few other games all did something very similar. I don’t know about you but I buy the limited edition games for the feeling of involvement and dedication to the game that comes with purchasing them. I like to feel that I have paid that little extra to get all the goodies, it’s not like I am paying extra for the sheer hell of it. Now when something like this happens I can’t help but feel a little sour. Why would I not be rewarded for my conviction to the series. After all, these codes/DLC are all readily available for those who bought the standard game. So why do I not get them? I did happen to pay more than them and potentially ordered it further in advance to prevent any disappointment.
Another brilliant way to keep a collector begging for more is to give them the feeling of exclusivity. Something as simple as a piece of paper or a number on a box just adds that little bit more. To know that there was a finite amount of people who received the same box of goodies you did just seems to resonate in the “must have” part of that crazed, hoarding section of your brain. The most recent collector’s edition I can think of that did this was the Borderlands 2 Loot Chest. Sure, the little slip that told me which number I had was nowhere near as cool as the loot chest itself or the bobble head, but it was just that little reminder that solidified the fact that it was mines and I was part of the club.
Another great thing about the Borderlands 2 Loot Chest is that it was unique. Sure, it’s easy to do some vidocs and put them on a disc, fire up a printer and get a few thousand posters made or get some figures made, but it takes a real genius to not only make it all relevant but make it unique as well. Something we’ve never seen before.
The first “must have” unique collector’s edition and by far my favourite was the Halo 3 limited edition helmet. For me it is the epitome of all the collector’s editions, but that might be because I was never able to get one. I guess what I’m trying to say is if there is something unique and original about it (hell maybe it has a use beyond looking pretty) there will be an unprecedented desire for that edition. Definitely a key point when considering how to make the perfect package.
But what about those that fell short of making something unique? Do they fall at the feet of giants, or do they still make a worthy argument with your wallet to buy them? For me a collector’s edition that doesn’t hit the spot is like being given a broken toy for Christmas. Sure, the gesture is there but its still broken and your left disappointed. A stand out case is the Duke Nukem: Forever collector’s edition, promising a full replica bust of the man himself in all his misogynistic glory. Now I don’t know about you but when I think of a bust I tend to assume something pretty big. And when you think of Duke you also think of some sort of grandiose bust, of some kind. Now when presented with what only be describe as a “mini-Duke” bust alarm bells start to ring, what did I actually pay for? Cos’ I sure as hell didn’t expect this.
On the subject of what you actually paid for, it goes without saying that good value is imperative in the process of making a good collector’s edition. A good collector’s edition should leave a sense of satisfaction beyond the in-game kick that all the shiny DLC may provide. It should put a smile on your face for the money well spent, even if it is just an art book and a soundtrack you paid for. They should match the mark-up and remain badass. To make an art book that bit more worthwhile it can be bulked up by more than one item of concept art for each character, the characters that didn’t make it, level designs and how they are built or even a few remixes of songs on the OST. It just adds that little bit more bang for your buck and feels fantastic to hold. Although I guess the super-duper limited edition leather replica Resident Evil 6 Leon jacket might be “value” gone wild.
Only one more issue remains for making the perfect collector’s edition and it’s region exclusivity. Or as I like to call it; Market Alienation. There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing the ideal piece for your shelf and finding out it isn’t available to you. Even in the cases it is, you will normally suffer an excessive increase in RRP and countless shipping charges. It just seems silly to potentially avoid sales. It’s counter-intuitive. What’s even worse is when they make the effort to make different editions for different regions. For instance, Americans who purchased the limited edition of Mortal Kombat 9 had the choice of getting an arcade stick special edition, a collector’s edition with bookmarks or just your plain old standard edition. Whereas the UK got two separate editions; standard and a special edition with a model figure. Now there is no way that creating and distributing multiple varied and different editions worldwide could be more cost effective than making a set available worldwide and making them in bulk.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that making the perfect collector’s edition is like making the perfect game. You have to know your market and put in a great deal of effort. You can’t just chuck some bits and bobs together and add a few codes. There will always be somebody looking to buy some overpriced edition with bells, whistles and enough code slips to choke a horse. Meanwhile, many more will queue for hours just to stand a chance of pre-ordering the next Borderlands 2 Loot Chest Edition. It sold out for a reason y’know. So make it for them, your loyal fans. And make it for me, the insane hoarder.