We all like to feel we are supporting the developers when we buy a Limited Edition, or a Collectors or Complete/Game of the Year Edition, with all the extra trimmings. But something has dawned on me after all this time – most, if not all, of them are a complete waste of time and, importantly, money… so why do we buy them?
It is no secret that many of us incredibly nerdy gaming types will buy anything remotely associated with the games we buy. I once bought a pair of Triforce cuff-Links (oh, I am so witty!), when I was going through a bit of a phase with Zelda: Twilight Princess. This is not a bad idea until you point out that I don’t wear long-sleeved shirts, and haven’t for a bloody long time. So what was the point of buying the cuff-Links? Because they were shiny, gold and pretty. And a bargain at £49.99.
That’s right, I paid £50 for a pair of cuff-Links I have never used and am likely to never use.
This might explain why a lot of us go weak at the needs for Collectors Editions and Limited Editions, because these huge boxes often contain a treasure trove of otherwise useless garbage for us to play with – that is, of course, if you play with it at all. I know people who will buy TWO collectors editions of games – one version is busted open and used for intrinsic in-game benefits, the other shoved in a cupboard to gather dust until the day finally comes when that version is worth four or five times what they paid for it. Yes, they lock away the game hoping that in the future, it will be worth something.
Let’s level with each other here, these games aren’t going to go up in value like some older games do now for very serious and noticeable reasons. For one, a lot of these games will require day-one patching and the original system and its firmware to play, as well as access to do it. As we are being reminded, it is still a matter of debate whether or not all our current X-Box Live purchases will survive the transition to a new firmware model on the Next-Box. Same goes for the PSN – PS4 may require something completely different. If we can’t guarantee the future validity of the games we buy now, then there is zero chance that second game you have bought and locked away will make any money at all.
We wouldn’t pay money for a game now that didn’t work. What makes you think someone will in ten years pay several hundreds for your game which can no longer be realistically played?
It isn’t that what is in the box is tat – mostly it is, but it is tat that makes us feel better. We get something solid and pretty for our money. I have a collectors edition of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. That would set someone back £200 today if I were to sell it (which I’m not and likely never will). It’s probably worth a little less as it has been well loved and well used, but the point is I can still PLAY it. I have an old PS2 that plays my PS1 discs like a dream, and it still to this day sees use – I still play Final Fantasy 7 and Grandia sometimes. Again, games with some more value today, but games I can USE.
On the other hand, I have a collectors edition of the now-defunct MMO Tabula Rasa, a game I loved and adored and to be fair, miss deeply. But guess what that’s worth? That’s right, NOTHING. Because it’s useless. It’s pointless. And despite all the bits being there, no-one wants to, or would want to, buy it. It is now without purpose, without gameplay and – more importantly – without value.
So collectors editions now aren’t worth the extra money largely because the very reason so many buy into them, that they might grow in value, is complete rubbish. But it’s nothing compared to the bile and hate I am about to heap onto the Complete and Game of the Year editions.
Look, I get it developers, a re-release a year on helps you a little bit, but can we just sit down and talk about this? Okay. Say I wanted to buy a racing game called Super Happy Funtime Finish. Let’s say it will cost £39.99 brand new at retail as an RRP, and through someone like Amazon I can pay £29.99. That’s cool.
Now let’s throw in day-one extra DLC and tracks at an extra £9.99. I guess that’s fair. I saved a tenner, I lose a tenner.
A month later, a new DLC pack comes out with more tracks and this is required for online play, priced at £9.99. Again, I’ll bite.
Then there comes a small content addition that allows me various new modes, trials and tracks as well as cars, carts and the like. Again, £9.99. Again, I’ll bite.
And finally, the last hurrah is a final big chunk of tracks and a track creator, as well as a cart decal customiser and some exclusive NPC cameos. £9.99. I’ll bite.
The total cost? £69.95.
So I’m feeling good, I got this theoretical game in October and I’ve been enjoying it. However, as the new year begins, the game appears once more on the retail stores – The Game of the Year Edition, or Complete edition. It comes with all the DLC from the year, all the extra content and cameos and customisers. It is the whole package.
The RRP cost for this version? £29.99.
Cue me screaming out; “I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU ALL! I WILL NEVER BUY YOUR CRAPPY LITTLE PIECE OF GARBAGE GAMES EVER AGAIN YOU SACKS OF WORTHLESS EXCREMENT!” Also envisage me pulling the heads off little mice in the process of doing this.
The problem with this is the Complete Edition makes it cheaper to wait for a game than to actually buy the DLC in the first place. And then the likes of Capcom, EA and UbiSoft have the sheer audacity to suggest this is because we’re not buying the games on release anyway so they have to monetise the early adopters. No guys, the reason no-one is buying is because we just sit back and wait for you to release the complete editions for less money than it costs buying the game new. This isn’t rocket science. This is simple economic sense. We’re not going to spend more than twice the price to buy into a game early when we can see it coming out months later with all the aforementioned paid content for so little.
It really isn’t complicated, this. Rather than treat their early adopters with the kind of respect and gratitude that they should be afforded, these people are being treated like crap because more and more of us have wised up to how the industry conducts itself. We know all this. We know that the Wii-U version of Darksiders will be the best, likely have all the DLC, better controls and graphics AND be the cheapest of all the versions. So why on earth would you buy the 360 or PS3 versions? It makes no sense! Likewise with Mass Effect 3. There’s talk currently it will come out on the Wii-U, and have some of the best controls and tactical management you could hope for. It will likely also come with any and all paid content and DLC. Again, why would you buy the inferior versions?
Thing is, if I have customers willing to go out on day one and buy a game I had made, I would want to thank them. I’d want to give them free stuff. I’d want them to feel loved and cherished, like they are part of a happy family. I’d pass the excess cost onto the later adopters – but of course, we can’t do that these days because we have to cut the price of everything for later adopters to convince them to buy it. Thing is, if they haven’t bought it in the ten months it has been on sale, that is their problem. Pandering to these people is killing the industry and destroying the fragile relationships between players and developers.
In closing, the industry is trying to milk us all for as much money as it can, as fast as it can, and we put up with it in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll get something out of it. Guess what? If we keep bending over for them, we never will. We can never command or ask for respect when we take whatever spankings are being dished out. But equally, let’s be clear, buying collectors editions and/or complete editions is more than making the problem worse. People will buy these, in volume. Making collectors editions worthless and complete editions worth more than buying it day one.
We have got ourselves into a right state. It’s time we started biting back.