Over the last few years, the sheer number of special editions to come out has pretty much ruined the meaning of the phrase, as each game that hits retail gets some form of limited edition or a special item to justify its price bump. With that, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan discuss how the changes in the market are pushing developers and retailers to find new ways to generate profit, and if this trend is ultimately hurting you, the consumer.
Dan: I remember back in the day, when only a few games released under the moniker of ‘Special Edition’ or the completely oxymoronic term for the mass-produced ‘Limited Editions’. Now the titles seem to be simply an excuse for retailers to hike up the price and throw in a few pieces of digital content, or some plastic piece of garbage. Given that I have purchased more than my fair share of overpriced editions of games, I’m just as guilty as many of you (if not more so) for buying into the hype around pre-order goodies. Yet, even though I still have my Big Daddy statue from the first BioShock, and a number of other random bits of useless goodies, there are a some editions being pushed out that I just cannot understand. As if charging $10 for a few bits of digital content was not bad enough, Sony and GameStop have just announced a Post-Pandemic edition for The Last of Us, which is an unbelievable $160 dollars. Given the $100 price increase, the bonuses would be thought to be incredible, yet the biggest difference between the Post-Pandemic and the $80 Survival Edition is mainly an insignificant 12” statue of Joel and Ellie, and a few bits of digital content (skins, and MP boosters).
While The Last of Us is far from the first game to be used in such a manner, and won’t be the last, I never understood why, when given the opportunity to produce elaborate goods based on a product, some companies seem to half-ass it. Namely, most loot attached to a product, besides being completely overpriced, is also fundamentally useless. When I pre-ordered Mirror’s Edge a few years back, it came with a messenger bag, something that I could actually use for some purpose. While I have never been a big fan of Activision’s method of business for multiple reasons, the concepts behind the CoD Elite editions are to many, unique (still vastly overpriced) and interesting. This concept of pushing a Special Edition that is, in some sense, special, not only adds a bit to the allure to purchasing the overpriced goods, but also creates a bit of buzz to help push public awareness of a product.
Seb: Every time a limited edition is released, droves of them soon hit eBay and their value crashes. Because they’re not limited. They make far too many of them, devaluing the entire point of the edition and making a mockery of the name.
The Last of Us special editions do have some items that make sense and give value to the purchase – such as an art book and a soundtrack. But there’s also a lot of filler to trick people into thinking it’s more value than it is (this isn’t a slight solely on TLOU, but the practice as a whole). What they do is bulk out the bullet-points with DLC – often pretty small stuff like skins, but occasionally larger missions. The problem is, of course, that that DLC invariably comes to the PSN a week to a month later, generally for free or less than the cost of the special edition’s extra price. So take them out of the equation when you’re considering paying more for the game.
I’m also annoyed by the idea of different special editions with different content. I get it if it’s tiered – the more you pay, the more you get – but companies are increasingly experimenting with retailer-exclusive special editions that have their own unique things. It’s the same problem as with pre-order bonuses that are tied to retailers: Even if you’re a big fan of the game, you can’t get all the goodies… unless you were to buy several special editions of course. Stuff like that is just insulting to followers of the IP.
You could argue that Naughty Dog are doing a similar thing with their European version of TLOU special edition, where you can either get a Joel edition or an Ellie one. I can see what they’re trying here – “choose your favorite, support #teamellie”, which is marginally annoying when we know nothing about the characters – what if I choose Ellie stickers, but then fall in love with Joel’s beard? And that’s the other problem: it’s stickers. In a special edition. For that price, they could have easily given us both sets of totally-expensive-paper-with-glue-on-one-side in the same edition.
Of course, we’re focusing on TLOU in particular here because this is a daily feature, and it’s the chef’s special of the day, but it’s far from the worst offender. The statue does seem a bit on the pricey side, and I’m on the fence over whether I like the look of it, but at least it’s a tangible, special product. I don’t agree that the extras have to be useable items like a bag, but they need to be good quality. I love an awesome statue as much as the next collector, so I can appreciate their worth if they deserve it. Stickers on the other hand…
But TLOU is still better than most. Forza 3 got a near-bog-standard USB for $20. The Resident Evil 6 $600 special edition gave you a leather jacket and, unfortunately, a copy of Resident Evil 6. The $129.99 Tron Evolution Collector’s Edition included a lightcycle that looked so cheap the Chinese government tried to remove the “made in China” logo out of embarrassment. The Alone in the Dark limited edition forced you to look at this, clearly the most frightening thing about the entire game. The list goes on and on. The special edition of Daily Reaction includes a longer list.
Publishers can do better if they really expect us to pay through the nose during the busiest year in gaming – hell, the Uncharted special editions weren’t too bad. Limited Editions shouldn’t be an easy cash-in off of hardcore fans, where publishers bundle in some DLC that everyone else is getting anyway, some stickers and a cheap plastic toy from a Happy Meal. If they want us to pay 160 bucks, it should be worth 160 bucks.
Ah well, either way, I’m going to be playing The Last of Us until my fingers bleed, and that’s what really matters.
What was the last Special or ‘Limited’ Edition you purchased? What was the best add-on you ever got? What was the worst? Let us know in the comments below, or by sending us $20 for a very limited edition of tweets from Seb and Dan.
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