Collector’s Editions Are A Waste. And I’m Not Sure I Care.

Daniel Robinson

I have a problem. I realize that the first hurdle in fixing a problem is admitting you have one, but I’m not sure it’s one I want to fix.

You see, I like collector’s editions. More specifically, I like video game collector’s editions. The same Collector’s Editions that include the regular video game, a t-shirt I’ll never wear, a statue I’ll never display, a sticker I’ll never peel off, and an art book I’ll never look at. And yet, I still find myself buying these “rare” collector’s items and spending $20 or $30 or $40 more than if I bought just the game I wanted to play.

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I suppose my internal rationale is that if it’s a game that I’m going to buy anyway or a series that I really enjoy, I might as well spend a little (or a lot) more on the deluxe collector’s edition because its rare and cool. This kind of rationale has not been good for either my wallet or my storage space.

Before we go any farther, let’s get some things straight—Collector’s Editions are cash grabs, plain and simple. Publishers stick $5 worth of stuff in a bigger box, post a “super-mega edition” title on it, and charge consumers $30 more at retail. But just because it’s a cash grab, does not necessarily mean companies are evil for making them.

Consider this—video game prices have not increased over the last two console generations. Playstation games were originally sold at retail for around $39.99. Playstation 2 and Xbox games sold for $49.99. Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 games sold for $59.99. But those prices haven’t risen during this console generation. Playstation 4 and Xbox One games are still priced consistently at $59.99.

order-1886-ceWhile the lack of a price increase is good for consumers, it’s not as good for developers and publishers. As production and marketing costs continue to rise for big-budget games, the amount companies make off of each game sold has stayed pretty much the same. And the dwindling, but still effective, used game market has an effect on those profits as well.
We can also see a correlation between the prevalence of collector’s editions now and lack of them in previous console generations.

Can you remember any collector’s editions being offered during the PS2/Xbox days? I can’t, aside from the occasional included soundtrack. Collector’s Editions didn’t really start creeping up until the PS3/Xbox 360 generation. At this point in the current console generation however, almost every new release has at least one Collector’s Edition with some having multiple tier based editions at differing price points. (i.e. Uncharted 4; Final Fantasy XV; The Order: 1886).

This also helps to justify the rise of expensive DLC and $30 Season Passes. Publishers can sell a base game at $59.99 and a DLC season pass at $30. Marketing a collector’s edition gets them an extra $30 or so.

Now that we understand why Collector’s Editions are made, does that make me want to stop buying them? No, not really. I’m still going to buy them for games and series’ that I enjoy. I suppose I like the thought of potentially having a piece of gaming history and having something cool to look back on when I inevitably get too old (or have too many kids) to keep playing video games.

If you’re like me and enjoy overpriced belt buckles and plushies, don’t be all willy-nilly with your purchases. You earned your money and you should be careful about what you spend it on. Remember to follow some basic guidelines:

Be Selective. This is important. You don’t need every Collector’s Edition that gets released. Plants vs. Zombies 4: Super Pea Shooter Edition is probably not one you should be buying. Collector’s Editions are a big investment. Buy the ones that you really want and take your time in deciding if the game, and its enhanced price, is right for you.

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Place a value on the items in the box. Before you buy, really take stock of what comes in the box. Art books, limited edition cases, and statues are cool, but are they worth the extra $30? Would they be enticing to a future collector? If the answers are “no,” maybe you should pass. And remember, DLC codes are pretty useless in Collector’s Editions because they have no value once used to a future collector.

Be willing to wait for a better price. More often than not, Collector’s Editions are overproduced and undersold. If you are willing to wait, they will inevitably drop in price as retailers (like Amazon, Walmart, and Gamestop) attempt to move them out of warehouses and stores. If you can, be patient, you can often get a collector’s edition for the same price as the base game if you wait long enough and pay attention.

Whether Collector’s Editions are worth the price of admission is up for debate. But ultimately, the only opinion that matters is yours. Gaming and collecting is supposed to be fun. Have fun with your purchases, but be aware of the pros and cons.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to preorder a copy of the Persona 5 “Take Your Heart” Premium Edition.

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