The Issue with Collector’s Editions


By Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)

For many years, video game companies have tried to entice their hardcore audience by releasing collector’s editions of their games. These collector’s editions usually include more than just the game, items such as stickers, necklaces, art books and character statues. These collector’s editions are simply an expensive alternative to just buying the game with content that you normally couldn’t find anywhere else, with ebay being the exception.

Collector’s editions are generally supposed to be sold alongside the stand alone game, basically giving you the option of one or the other. I say generally because I feel that’s how it’s supposed to be. However, that isn’t always the case.

Let’s take the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed 3 as our main example for today. Having recently pre-ordered it, I felt very angered seeing the mess that I would have to sort if I wanted to purchase a collector’s edition.

First off, there are multiple collectors’ editions for Assassin’s Creed 3. Starting with the ‘Freedom Edition,’ which includes a twenty-four inch figurine of Connor (the playable assassin in the game), a notebook from the table of George Washington (an item referred to in-game), an exclusive lithograph and for pre-ordering you get a steelbook case art for the game. You also get the ‘Lost Mayan Ruins’ and ‘Ghost of War’ single-payer missions, in addition to a multi-player package, which includes various items for online play.

Next, there is the ‘Join or Die’ edition. This includes the same notebook from George Washington as before, but instead of the figurine you get a medallion with the assassin’s logo etched into it. You will only receive the ‘Ghost of War’ single-player expansion but still receive the multi-player package as mentioned before.

Finally we have the ‘Special Edition,’ which is perhaps the lowliest of the collector’s editions here. All you will receive is a single player expansion called ‘A Dangerous Secret’ and an exclusive packaging for the game. I should note that each edition comes with its own special packaging, adding to the level of uniqueness for each.

So here are three different editions you can buy this October 30th when Assassin’s Creed 3 hits stores. The main problem, however, is how each edition is different from each other and not set-up in a tiered fashion. As a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I want to obtain all of the special items and put them on display, but I don’t want to purchase three different versions of the game in order to do so.

I always felt collector’s editions were great as long as you were a fan of the game. As I said, I’m a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise and would love to pick up the freedom edition when it comes out, but I also would like to see a trickle-down effect where I also gain all the exclusives from the lesser editions (join or die and special in this case). I’ve also read reports that the European collector’s editions will feature even more exclusive content in addition to the retail specific pre-order bonuses that stores are advertising.

This issue is not something that has recently sprung up, either. Back when Mass Effect 3 was released, there were several different editions released with the game and different exclusive content depending on where and when you bought the game. Somebody once did the math and reported that it would cost the consumer over one thousand dollars if they wanted to purchase all the different versions of Mass Effect 3 in order to collect all of the content. Did Bioware really expect their fans to pay so much money in order to access all of their content? Does Ubisoft really expect the same now?

Despite this problem, collector’s editions can still be great additions for anybody who is that dedicated to a franchise. I just really wish companies would not distribute their additional content among three different versions of one game like what Ubisoft is doing with Assassin’s Creed 3. By all means, there is nothing stopping anybody from simply purchasing the game itself and being content with that and I guarantee there will be some consumers who have little to no interest in even looking at the collector’s editions mentioned above.

What do you all think? Should games only have one edition for collectors? Do you agree with certain exclusive content being segregated? Will you even purchase a collector’s edition of a game?


  1. NatalieAugust 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve always gotten the ‘Special Edition’ with games i love, mainly Halo, but i picked up the special edition with the last AC game. I was considering it this time around with the new AC game, though wasn’t aware there was multiple editions. I have to say i agree with you, its a little disappointing, i always thought that if you were going to spend the extra money, you should get all the additional content there is. This multiple editions really takes the fun out of it. because you’ve paid the extra money, but still miss out on some content. Extra figurines I’m not too worried about, but if they’re releasing different game content, in two different editions, its absolute crap. I know if you want it that badly it will most likely be up for D/L on xbox live or something, but thats not really the point. Why pay more money if you’re not getting everything there is?

  2. DraykAugust 14th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I do prefer there to be multiple Collector’s Editions. I agree that any time you have multiple, each one should add more on what the previous one has. There is nothing more disappointing than when Collector’s Editions for a game you are really looking forward to is announced and are ready to get the best edition available only to find that there is items or content that are spread across multiple versions.

    Tiered editions always seemed to be the case, but now they seem to spread things out. One that annoyed me was Batman: Arkham City, where you would get a different bonus outfit depending on where you bought the game. Sure they made them available down the line, but with that they are making people possible change where they are purchasing the game based on the outfit the liked most. I also didn’t like the fact with the Collector’s Edition of B: AC statue, the game didn’t even come in the basic 360 case, instead being placed at the back of the art book. It looks terrible on the shelf with my other games.

    Multiple tiers covering different price ranges so consumers can either buy the one that fits in their price range or those that just want it all can get the high priced one.

    While I will try to get the top end edition for any game I like, the bonus items are not always worth it, so I will work my way down to find the version that fits best. Hard to do if the spread out the bonus items.

  3. WintorzAugust 15th, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I agree (if I’ve read this right) with your stance point. I am a fan of collectors editions of games that are released alongside standard editions. Its a bonus for any fan out there. However, the release of three separate versions seems like a poorly thought out business strategy. I can accept a tiered system. Like Natalie, I wouldn’t be interested in a figurine etc that you find in the “ultimate” editions, and wouldn’t want to pay the the upwards of £30 on top of the retail price of the game. However paying an extra £20 to get exclusive DLC, or artwork interests me. The various store specific DLC for ME3 as you used as an example is frustrating because as Natalie says you are paying extra money and still missing out on content. And as Drayk says your decision becomes based on what DLC/extras you’d prefer rather than price or business practice.
    “While I will try to get the top end edition for any game I like, the bonus items are not always worth it, so I will work my way down to find the version that fits best. Hard to do if the spread out the bonus items.” – I think this is a fitting line.

  4. Stephen JanesAugust 21st, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a complaint about this. Some of the bonus content for Mass Effect 2 and 3 were the same; depending on where you got the game you would get additional content exclusive for that store. I hate it when companies partner up with places like 7-11 or Walmart for exclusive content only because neither are in my immediate area.

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