Special Editions are Getting Out of Control

Have you started getting the feeling that special editions for video games these days don’t seem all that… special? I know I have lately, especially after the bevy of special editions revealed recently (for Europe, so far) for the highly anticipated Ubisoft title Watch Dogs.

Special Editions are Getting Out of Control

Ubisoft appears to be a specific perpetrator of this practice with four special editions each for three upcoming titles. Do we really need all this? Is this hurting consumers in any way?

I’ve never really been one to gravitate towards special editions when picking up video games. The prices are usually outrageous since these tend to be packaged with things like statues or, in the case of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, a remote-controlled plane.

... Really?

… Really?

It’s one thing to give franchise fans an option to go all out if they’re willing to spend the dough, but four special editions seems a bit much. It can also get very confusing as is the case with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

There’s the Special Edition with only some in-game content, the Skull Edition which throws in a steel case, art book, and soundtrack, then there are the big daddies with the Buccaneer Edition and Black Chest Edition. The latter two include a statue and bigger statue respectively stored in enormous boxes.

Better make room for your shelf

Better make room for your shelf

I realize there are folks out there who live to collect things like this and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m speaking more on behalf of the common consumer who may feel overwhelmed with which content is included with which bundle.

For the most part, each special edition comes with certain downloadable content. As is the case with Watch Dogs, you get one piece of DLC in the Special Edition and a completely separate one in the Vigilante Edition. When developers start cherry-picking content like this, that’s when I have to cross the line.

Anyone and everyone gets a statue these days...

Anyone and everyone gets a statue these days…

Day 1 DLC has always been a sore topic in the gaming community. These latest special editions just seem to push that level of soreness even further now. Why withhold content that’s already completed by the time a game is released? I would suspect it’s for the exact same reason why Ubisoft offers an hour worth of extra content on Sony’s consoles over the Xbox 360 and PC versions. It’s all about the exclusivity deals.

It’s no surprise that GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, and other game retailers are vying for your business. The way to do that in the gaming department, it seems, is to land exclusive content that can only be obtained by purchasing at a specific outlet. The retailer gets their incentive, the developer gets an extra kickback from the deal with said retailer, and the consumers get the illusion of choice. Power to the players? Hardly.

Screw you, GameStop

Screw you, GameStop

Simply put, there needs to be an end to slicing out game content and only making it available from certain retailers. While it’s true that said content could potentially appear later for universal download in the future, this isn’t always the case. Don’t force me to buy a statue just to get what should already be in the game.

Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Special Editions are Getting Out of Control

  1. Pingback: Special Editions are Getting Out of Control - Blog by logicallydashing - IGN

  2. Sharing my comment from IGN:
    Agreed. While I don’t think having a (one) special edition for collectors and fans of a game is a bad thing as they can add to the experience. Just don’t split it up into the different retailers with “limited” exclusive content. In the end, your just alienating your core gamers by doing this.

    However I suspect the reason we are seeing so many of these is that they are turning into big cash cows with big profit margins. Instead of throwing down $60 for a game with fixed margins that are split several ways among publishers, retailers, advertising, and developers, you throw down $100 and get some digital extras (usually very minor, not really worth it, and zero impact to the main game story or plot) that was always part of the original game but siphoned off for marketing purposes along with a book and case that costs less than $1, and collectable statue that probably costs around $3 to manufacture.

    When you really look at these collection editions in detail you can see that they are cheaply manufactured for the most optimal profit margin. As a game publisher, your in this business to make a profit, so yeah these make good business sense. On the flip side, they don’t always make as much sense to everyone in the gaming community.

    We tend to feel cheated or ripped off because we can’t always get everything. Then we spend the extra money for the collectors editions only to realize how cheap they are made really not worth it in the end. But they already have our money!

    I’m not saying that all are bad, some collectors editions are worth it, while most are not.

  3. I’m an avid collector of video games and video game memorabilia and when a game comes out that I like, or think I will like, I tend to gravitate towards buying the collector’s edition. I agree with some of your points and disagree with some. I think exclusive in game content is fine for collector’s editions and even for retailers to get different dlc to put out as long as it isn’t major story dlc and doesn’t make the game “pay to win” if there is a multiplayer aspect. Sure there have been times when it is hard to choose between retailers because of interest in multiple dlcs from different retailers but in the end it is a business and I don’t feel cheated in any way by that practice because the dlc offered typically isn’t anything that changes the grand scope of the game. Its usually just a couple of different weapons or skins in which case you can go on ebay and buy it if you really want it. But that is the key word, “want”. People tend to confuse the word want with the word need. Having 4 different versions of AC Black Flag is no different than a car company putting multiple models of the same car with different features, which is a universally accepted practice and nobody complains about it. Will all of the cars run? Yes. If you pay more do you get more? Yes. And that’s fine. As far as consumers being confused by multiple editions I believe it is up to them to do the research and not the company’s responsibility if a customer wanted one statue and mistakenly ordered the edition with the wrong statue. That’s consumer error and not the fault of the company in any way. To try to blame a company for a consumer error is pandering to a minority that wants everything but is unwilling to put any time into figuring out exactly what they want. For example, I didn’t know there were going to be 4 editions of AC Black Flag before I read this article and it took me less than 5 minutes to figure out the difference in each edition. To insinuate that a demographic of people who are about to put 30+ hours of their lives into one game can’t spend five minutes researching exactly what comes with that game is just silly.

    As far as the issue of collector’s editions not feeling special, that just comes with the territory of collecting anything. I preordered and bought the BioShock Infinite Ultimate Songbird Edition and you can still buy it on eBay/Amazon new and sometimes for less than I paid for it. Do I regret buying it? No. Is the magic of owning it diminished by seeing it still for sale and for less than I paid for it? A little. But what about my Ultimate Loot Chest Edition of Borderlands 2? That was a good call. And am I still kicking myself for not preordering the collector’s edition of Ni No Kuni? You better believe it. And every time I see that robot dog walking around in the Normandy or put the N7 hoodie on Shepard I am insanely happy about buying the ME 3 collector’s edition just for the way having something exclusive in my favorite game makes me feel even if nobody else ever sees it. But once again, it’s all part of the fun of collecting. It’s not for everybody and its not meant to be.

    There is no need to try to diminish the fun of collecting for other people just because it isn’t your thing. And as long as retailer specific dlc isn’t major content and continues to be mostly cosmetic then what’s the harm? People don’t “need” a specific weapon or costume. They “want” a specific weapon or costume and typically you have to pay for what you want. Nobody is “forcing” you to buy a statue to get other content. They are asking you to pay extra money for a bonus feature the same way a car manufacturer asks you to pay extra money for 20th anniversary seat stitching or a special paint scheme. If you don’t want it then don’t buy it. If it doesn’t keep you from completing the game then who is to say what “should already be in the game”? Having a specific weapon or costume isn’t game altering unless the weapon kills everything in one shot and even then as long as it isn’t useable in multiplayer, who cares? If someone wants to kill everything in one shot and it doesn’t have an effect on other people, then its their game and they want to have fun with it. Let them. I would never dream of telling someone that they shouldn’t have something because they paid more than me and I wouldn’t be envious of that person. I wouldn’t wish that they didn’t have it or try to keep them from getting it. That just seems selfish. There will always be things I want that I can’t have whether it be video game related or not. That’s how the world works.

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