How to Make a Collector’s Edition People Care About
Collector’s editions represent a kind of metaphorical bond. Few fans have the financial resources necessary to buy every collector’s edition that comes out, so they’re forced to decide: which games do I care most about? Which ones deserve an extra investment that goes beyond the price of the game?
That’s not to say, however, that these decisions take place in a vaccuum. Game publishers are wise to the kind of budget triage that goes on in their customers’ heads. They try to tap into those collector’s edition dollars by offering all manner of knick-knacks, some enticing, some not. Gamers are left trying to figure out how to get value for their extra money.
With this dilemma in mind, GameFront prepared a guide that tabulates the good and bad aspects of collector’s editions — past, present and future. Gamers — use it to plan your next purchase. Publishers — this is what we want! Give us more of it!
Pick the right collector’s edition, and you can continue to enjoy it long after you’ve actually beaten the game in question. This is particularly true for editions that include items that are, y’know, actually useful. You can totally use them!
Say you’re woken up by your Fallout 3 Pip-boy shaped alarm clock. You can hop in the shower, then dry off with an official Hyperdimension Neptunia towel. As you subsequently get dressed, you can use Drake’s lucky belt buckle from the Uncharted 3 collector’s edition to hold your pants up! Since you’re a Call of Duty fan also, you’ll grab your functioning night-vision goggles and remote-control jeep on the way out the door — you’ll need those later (for a mission?). They fit tidily into a Crysis 2 Nano Edition backpack. Look out, world!
There’s no such thing as too many useful collector’s edition items. This fall, I suggest Bethesda look into horned, Nord-style bike helmets for Skyrim fans who are also cycling enthusiasts.
Cool Things to Display
Sure, part of ordering the collector’s edition is about forging a personal connection with the game, but how will anyone know if they don’t get to check out all the cool stuff you got? The best way to do this is with statues of game characters, which are already a staple. They’re good for decorating your cubicle and eliciting awkward questions from co-workers.
Other items like mouse-pads, t-shirts, and posters enable dedicated fans to display their love. But why stop there? Publishers could take a page from sports teams and start selling hand towels or footie pajamas. FIFA 12 could ship with a customized pair of cleats. How about a Dark Souls china set? Or a Darkness II light-switch cover? (Satan-powered tentacles sold separately, some restrictions may apply.)
Video game heroes are known by their weapons. Link and Master. Cloud and Buster. The list could go on forever. There’s nothing better, therefore, than getting a full-sized replica of your favorite video game weapon as part of your collector’s edition. Gears of War 2 shipped with a full-sized Lancer assault rifle, for god’s sake! Whether you’re into cosplay or you just have an empty firearm-shaped spot above the mantle, big-ass weapons are hard to beat. Batman: Arkham City came with a Batarang. Uncharted 2 had a Buddhist ritual dagger. So can I get a pearl-handled .22 with garter-belt holster with my collector’s edition of Saints Row: The Third already?
DVD’s full of Pre-launch Trailers
If I’m shelling out more than $100 for a video game, I’ve already seen all the pre-launch trailers. In addition to insulting your customers by making them pay for useless crap, you’re also basically admitting that you don’t have any cooler ideas. Like that Bully collector’s edition shaped like a dodgeball!
They’re heavy. They drive up shipping costs. They remained un-opened, gathering dust as you happily game away.
No one’s denying that video game developers hire great artists, who often do great work when designing characters and environments. It’s just that when you have a state-of-the art piece of 3D entertainment in your disc drive, oil paintings of impressionistic alien vistas don’t really appeal. This also goes for “collectible” concept art within games themselves, I’m afraid. Cut that out. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mr. Game Designer.
Useless In-game Content
The best collector’s editions give you awesome stuff you can use in real life. The worst collector’s editions give you mediocre in-game crap that outlives its usefulness in only two or three levels. It may be gold-plated, but it’s still only a make-believe AK-47 inside a piece of software.
Developers are in a Catch 22 here. On the one hand, they want to give people useful stuff, to entice them into buying the collector’s edition. On the other hand, they don’t want to make the stuff too useful, or it will give buyers an unfair advantage over all the economy class players. Best to avoid this dilemma all together, and concentrate on cool stuff that you can hold in your hand.
There’s plenty of stuff that we could have mentioned here, but didn’t! Graphic novels! Soundtrack albums! If you’ve got a favorite item from a favorite collector’s edition, or a particuar perk that you think should be included more often, why not chime in in the comments?