Collectors Editions: Are They Worth It?

If you are into a particular game, it’s natural that you might enjoy buying into its world in any way possible. For some, this might entail picking up a copy of the book/comic/film that it might be based on or has caused to be created. For others, the lure of the limited or collector’s edition might be another road taken.

Limited and collector’s editions have been around for long enough that it seems a little strange when a big game is released and is only available in one flavour. As a general rule, the limited edition can be picked up for around 25% more than the cost of the standard version. Collector’s editions are usually aimed at the super fans and are usually at least double the price of the regular edition. As in so many areas of life though, not all are created the same. Some are amazing and very desirable. Some are crazy and probably manufactured to simply generate a bit of news. Others are a down right rip-off and can cause a huge amount of buyer’s remorse. I’m taking a look at some of the best, worst and most loony editions to see just what is going on and whether spending out on these extravagant editions over the plain standard release is worth it. I have also asked members of the Geek Syndicate team for their opinions and information about their own buying experiences.

Antony: I’ll get the “limited edition” or “collector’s edition” of a game that I am 90% sure I will enjoy. Usually there’s some Day One DLC in them (Which is a subject for a whole other article!) and I like to get the most out of them. Additionally, I miss the whole “open the box, read the book, play the game” element that used to be key in games – especially RPG and Strategy games.

The first category above the regular version of a game is usually the limited edition. This might take the form of a steel-box instead of the usual plastic kind. It sometimes will include extra knick-knacks such as art-books, postcards or proper printed game maps. Some only include a little bit of DLC. This all sounds quite reasonable until you open the box and fish out some tacky piece of tat that is so cheaply made you might wonder where the extra premium you spent has gone.

wolfensteinSome games only come with digital extras. The limited edition (called Tier 1 in Europe) of 2010’s Medal of Honor came with some weapon unlocks, the ability to download Medal of Honor: Frontline (on PS3 only so tough luck X360 owners) and an invite for the Battlefield 3 beta. That might be enough for many fans of the game but to me it seems pretty weak. I’m always a bit dubious when a game bundles the beta for another, usually more anticipated game. It seems to me that the publisher is hopeful that the stronger franchise will boost sales of the lesser one. I certainly know of a good few people who bought Medal of Honor just for the Battlefield 3 beta invite contained inside. Of course it is totally their choice, but these beta invites seem to be happening more and more frequently. The recent Wolfenstein: The New Order has a beta invite for the new Doom game inside its box, along with some very cheap feeling postcards, a thin travel guide and a card holder. Again, the beta seems the main draw with this one.

The next step up the ladder are those limited and collector’s editions that contain things beyond paper based extras. I own The Sims Medieval Collector’s Edition. It was picked up on a whim as I’m partial to some of the more laid back and light hearted game play of The Sims games. It was also reduced to a silly price and thank goodness for that! In the box, you get the game, some bits of DLC, some printed stuff like an art-book and poster…and a wax seal. I mustn’t be overly harsh as some of the stuff in the box isn’t too bad, but the wax seal…cheaper plastic you will not find.

I’m not saying everything in a collector’s edition needs to feel expensive but beyond the art-book, where did the extra money go? The other stuff just lets it all down.

Barry: As a rule I don’t tend to buy collector/limited editions because I feel they are a bit of a rip off. They never really feel that exclusive to be honest but the real reason is the only thing I am really interested in, these days, is the game itself.

Of course, you can also end up in the situation where the collectables in the box turn out to be better or more desirable than the game they came with:

Antony : The Elder Scrolls Online collector’s edition had some really great extras – a nice looking (if slightly plasticy) statue, an old school bound book detailing the world and so on. Really nice. Shame the game didn’t achieve what it tried to be.

Vichus: I, for whatever reason, learned about a game called Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon. Yes, that is a mouthful. I haven’t even played the game yet, because the game wasn’t what I desired. All I wanted from it is the plush Jack Frost doll. Why? Does man or woman need a good reason to own a Jack Frost doll? He’s even dressed as one of the game’s characters! That frosty scamp!

darksoulsIn my opinion, an example of a well done premium edition is the Dark Souls Limited Edition. It only comes with a few physical extras but you can just feel the quality in the small hardback art-book and the way the soundtrack CDs slot so neatly inside.

Other games might feature statues or larger props in their special editions. These can range from the very nicely made, like the Assassins Creed 2 White Edition which features an Ezio Statue, an art-book and other goodies, to ones in which the objects just leave you feeling cold.

Barry: I pre-ordered a collectors edition of Batman Arkham Asylum. My sole reason for doing this was because I wanted the Batarang that came with the edition. I was gutted when said edition arrived and I realised that the Batarang was fixed to the stand so I could not take it, as planned, to the darkened streets of Northampton to become its feared and shadowy protector.

Sometimes the included goodies do prove useful though:

Vichus: I bought the special edition of the Grand Theft Auto IV game, which came with a map, duffel bag, lock box, an “Art of GTA IV” book , “The music of GTA IV” and a (very poky when you put it in your pocket) GTA IV key chain. I like GTA, but what made me purchase this special edition is that the lock box and gym bag are reusable, so I felt that I was getting my money’s worth on an item.

Some companies do collector’s editions very well. Take for example Sierra’s World in Conflict. The collector’s edition came with a gaming headset, a history channel DVD, and a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall. That just feels so right and fitting to me and I think it shows that bundled extras can be relevant beyond figurines and soundtracks.

haloreachAnother example is Bungie’s Halo Reach. The game comes in a large hexagonal cornered box. Inside are a few badges and suchlike but the thing that really steals the show, for me at least, is the artefact bag containing Dr Halsey’s personal journal. It was one of the most satisfying and premium unboxing experiences I’ve ever had, and I’m not someone who usually gets excited about the whole ‘unboxing’ issue. The texture of the bag, the feel of the book, everything just made it feel lovely to do.

Antony: I always remember the first “collector edition” I got. It was Ultima 9 on the PC. At the time, games still came with proper manuals but I saw it on offer in Game and couldn’t resist. It came with a cloth map, a coin (I think), spell book and a deck of Tarot cards (not a full deck – unlike Dishonored!). The cloth map I really liked as it added something to the experience of playing the game.

As with anything though, there are the extreme outliers, those collector’s editions that cost silly money and are more marketing ploy than genuine.

Take Codemasters’ Grid 2: Mono Edition. Not only do you get the game for your £125,000, but you also get a proper BAC Mono Supercar and all sorts of driving gear/experience days to boot. Cool on one level but marketing muscle on another.

If that wasn’t incredible enough, how about Deep Silver’s Saints Row IV Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition? This gives you not one but two cars: a Toyota Prius and a Lamborghini Gallardo. Nice to think that they considered everyday practicality and so offer the sensible and sensational at the same time. But in typical info-mercial style, ‘Wait! That’s not all!’ Along with the two cars, you get various stays in luxury hotels around the world, plastic surgery, spy and hostage rescue experience days, and…a flight into space! All for the bargain price of one million dollars!

All of this ruminating on the good, the bad and the insane of special editions leads us to the question of if they are worth the extra money. It’s clear that many gamers love what the collector’s and limited editions give them or there wouldn’t really be the market for them. Are they sometimes a let down? Sure. Are some worthy of a place on the shelf where you display your other collectibles? Of course. If nothing else, the above piece shows that all you can do is judge them on a case by case basis, using all of the tools at your disposal to see if they are worth it, for you! One person’s tacky figurine is another’s object of adoration and of course, this alters the amount each person is willing to pay. There are lovely editions to buy and cynical ones that seem more bent on swindling the gamer out of their hard earned money. All you can do is stop and take a deep breath when you next see an advert for the premium edition of a game you think you just have to get. Sometimes you do just have to treat yourself though!


Casey Douglass
This article was originally published in our digital Geek Syndicate Magazine. The magazine is our free quarterly publication jam packed with features, interviews, previews and more.Check out the back issues here.

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