Video Game: The Ultra-Super-Special Edition

I recall a time, in the distant past, wherein it was a big deal to purchase a video game console and games.  Most of us mere mortals were content with that experience alone, but as with most technology, it quickly grew more diverse, more personal.  More expensive.

For example, I didn’t just have a Sega Game Gear – I had a cool carrying case for the device and the games, as well as the AC adaptor that tethered me to the wall whilst freeing me from mounds of spent batteries.  Soon, you could purchase controllers and even consoles in varying colors and designs.

But the games themselves weren’t about to be outdone.  As DVDs were coming out with bonus content and special director’s cuts, so too were video games.  Soon, buying a video game was like buying a car: you could get a re-released (with slightly different packaging) “Popular” version a few years after release (for much cheaper), you could get the standard model on release day, or you could get one with extra bells and whistles for more.

A Modest Proposal

Over the years, collector’s editions for video games have flirted with the extravagant, but now the concept has been taken to its logical conclusion: Saints Row IV.  This game has multiple special editions – are you content with your special game or would you like a light-up, rotating case for it? – including the version to beat all others: the Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition.  Also known as The Million Dollar Pack, this is limited to only one millionaire, and claims it includes such benefits as “a full day of spy training,” a trip to space, and “plastic surgery of the purchaser’s choice.”

The Million Dollar Pack is, at least on some levels, poking fun at the concept of overblown Collector’s Editions.  And it got me thinking: how often do I buy into the hype?  And when I have bought special editions, has it been worth it?

Generally, no

Most of the Special Editions I’ve bought in the past have, surprisingly, not been the actions of a superfan.  Instead, it goes something like this: a few months or years after the release, I go to purchase a game.  I see that there’s also some sort of collector’s edition available, at a considerably marked-down price.  I think to myself, “Hey, that metal case for Final Fantasy XII looks pretty cool,” and purchase it.

In these instances, rarely do I notice or appreciate any extra content.  What’s worse, I am not someone who crams her bookshelves with old games (they’re already crammed with books) so those cool cases?  Ultimately useless.

Granted, nowadays I’m even pickier with my purchases, so there are few super-special-edition impulse buys.  There is one exception, though…

That siren song

I may be missing a game or two, but to my memory I’ve only bought three collector’s editions in the last few years: Final Fantasy XII-2, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and World of Warcraft: Mist of Pandaria.  And there’s a very specific link between them: they each contain a soundtrack of that game’s music.

I love the soundtracks of video games.  Specifically, I tend to love the soundtracks of those two franchises.  Those collector’s editions were bought pretty much solely on the basis of those soundtracks, and I’d probably do so again.

Now, in the case of the WoW expansions, there were usually other elements I appreciated, like a special pet.  I’m one of the few people who actually watch and enjoy those behind-the-scenes DVDs.  Heck, even the themed mousepads have gotten some use.

A la heart

Honestly, though, if I’d had my choice in constructing my own Collector’s Edition for WoW, I would have included the soundtrack and any special pets or mounts.  Everything else had varying levels of usefulness.  Really, buying games would be more fun if we had a little bit of choice (I’m feeling the urge to make a car comparison again).  Maybe some people look for the tiny replica figures.   Maybe others might focus on jewelry.  People who might not want to shell out for 12 extra items might find it in their hearts to get one bonus feature.  If it weren’t for the added difficulty, it seems like financially it might even out – and be less wasteful.

Alas, a la carte collector’s editions are not yet the norm, and we have our usual choice between a standard model and one with features we might not need.  I figure the reason the World of Warcraft editions were more useful to me is because I spend most of my gaming time on WoW.  Thus, I’m determined to only purchase special editions in game franchises that are, well, special to me.  Seems fairly obvious – but perhaps in the past I’ve fallen into the trap that tells me that collector’s editions are better, even if I’m not a collector.

What about you?  What are your criteria for special editions?  Do you make use of special features?  And will you be purchasing any of the versions of Saints Row IV?


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