Collector's Edition: do they still make sense?

Collector's Edition: do they still make sense?

Collector's Edition

The gaming industry is changing. Do I feel it in the air or do I feel it in the earth and water? No, simply, it is a rather objective fact, testified by various more or less relevant factors. And, among these, it is clear how much the Collector's edition phenomenon is one of the most striking and current examples of what was stated above. I still remember, as the inveterate spendthrift that I am, the joyful deeds of a few years ago, my rushes to the GameStop on duty to book practically any type of special edition of the games I was particularly attached to or interested in, or the PayPal emails they warned me of the payment, resulting in an unnerving wait for a courier who, like Gandalf, was never late or early but simply arrived just when he had to. I spoke in the past, not surprisingly, because this insatiable thirst, over time, has become less and less evident in my case, leaving room for a much more passive and almost indifferent approach. With great surprise, however, recent times have made me understand this change of approach is not only mine, but has somewhat invaded the minds of a good part of the users.

In short, although still present in the playful ecosystem, collector's editions seem to have lost the charm that distinguished them until a few years ago, becoming more and more a "whims for the rich" and less and less a vehicle to convey passion and love towards a production. Let me be clear, collector's editions have probably always been a bit of an elitist product and not for everyone, also by choice and not just as a matter of possibility, but it is clear that something, in this gigantic mechanism, inevitably broken and not only economically. What is the reason for all this? I have some ideas about it, and I want to share them with you.

The evolution (or involution?) of collector's editions: the quality-price factor

All right, we have ascertained that the economic factor is certainly one of the most important with regard to the diffusion and affirmation of the collector's edition phenomenon, but we need to make a dutiful clarification. In addition to the simple price, another variable plays a fundamental role, at least as far as I'm concerned and I am increasingly convinced that this opinion has become increasingly widespread: the ruthless and feared quality-price equation. To be able to explain what I'm referring to in the best possible way, it is necessary to take a step back into the past, a happy past for the system in question but probably much less for my pockets (and not only). Do you remember a few years ago? Do you remember the years, to give you a more practical example, of the Ubisoft collecotr's? With around 100-120€ it was possible to take home a nice collector's edition complete with action figures, steelboxes, artbooks, stickers and so on, without renouncing, of course, to include in the package the main dish of the course: the game (not I underlined it by chance, but we'll talk about it later).

Considering the little price difference compared to the purchase of the "base" game, very often the spark went off in my head, that Jerry West-style mix of collecting and business acumen (the man who mistook cosmic nothingness for a very young Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles), which made me decide to buy a special version of a game over the standard one. And so I ended up with a closet full of boxes, which I still jealously keep today. From the collector's edition of Wolfenstein II to that of Just Cause 3 with its wonderful grappling hook, passing through the cool and incredibly cheap Persona 5 collector's edition in the PS3 version (the one with the bag, to make you understand), my wallet was exposed , on more than one occasion, driven mainly by the quality-price factor rather than by the real desire to buy the special edition itself. I admit it with a little shame, of course, but also with a lot of self-esteem, because, as far as I'm concerned, the quality-price factor is precisely one of the main discriminations of the involution of the collector's phenomenon we have been witnessing in recent years.

Gameless Collector's: the last step towards oblivion?

Too often, lately, we are witnessing the distribution of special editions that are too poor in terms of content or in any case conceived in such a way as not to justify their purchase. This "bad habit", even subjective, because it is sacrosanct to specify that taste is always very personal, has become more and more widespread over the years, in some cases even going beyond the boundaries of common sense. Carrying out a generalized price increase, which has invaded not only the videogame sphere but in general a bit the whole market, especially that of things considered "unnecessary", the price of special editions has become increasingly higher or, better to say, a new way of handling the thing was "tacitly" devised, which undoubtedly helped to further distance a good portion of the fans from the phenomenon in question. The smartest will have already figured it out: I'm referring to the "genius" of often creating multiple cuts for the various editions which, unlike the price, offer different content in addition to the base game. Well, at least as far as I'm concerned, this idea is one of those born in the worst way in my memory in the videogame medium, and I am convinced that it has created even more indifference in the soul of the average player towards special editions in general. More often than not, the different cuts mean this: there is a "cheap" version that is not worth buying or an overpriced version that, in any case, is not worth buying.

This unhealthy and unwise mechanism was then brought to its climax by what is surely the stroke of genius par excellence, that idea that can't come to everyone (fortunately): not including the game in some editions, especially those more expensive. Yes, I'm probably talking about putting myself in the shoes of someone who doesn't exactly have a bank account about to explode, but the idea of ​​selling special editions at prices over €200 and €250 (and even more!) and not including the game itself in the package is really chilling. Although some could still find a sense in this logic of which I, honestly, struggle to understand the trappings, it is clear that for the majority of users, or in any case for the "average" buyer, the idea itself was not particularly appreciated and to know it you don't have to move in the field of assumptions, but just read any page of any social network or user comments on thematic sites. More and more people have started complaining about this practice, also because, in some cases, these collector's editions are distributed with different timing than the release of the game itself. I don't want to give examples, but I have no doubts that many will think like me about how much the idea of ​​inflating prices and increasingly reducing the content (not always, mind you) has given the final blow to what it has become an increasingly elitist nuance of the videogame world, and at the same time has also played a fundamental role in making collector's editions less interesting in general, a bit for everyone.

High prices, unsatisfactory content and the rise of digital: the future of collector's editions is increasingly in the balance

As I told you at the beginning, there are many reasons behind the less and less strong appeal of collector's editions. In addition to those that I have already listed and which I consider to have a decidedly greater impact on the whole system, we must also keep in mind the general diffusion of retail, a market that is increasingly in trouble and on which digital delivery is breathing down its neck. became more and more suffocating. The spread of digital sales has in fact contributed to making physical copies less exciting for the average player in general, with harmful consequences also for the collector's market, already heavily penalized by the unfortunate choices mentioned above, but it has also made the latter always plus a product designed for a very specific and limited number of users. It is no mystery that many players prefer to buy a product in digital delivery, perhaps sharing the cost with a friend, or that they wait for discounts on digital versions or perhaps decide to buy their copies on well-known sites that offer products at super advantageous prices at very competitive, since day one. This has made physical copies in general less and less widespread and increasingly linked to the type of player/collector, and has inevitably also contributed to making special editions more and more by collectors and for collectors, somehow making the system whiter or black than it used to be. I myself, both for work reasons and for practical reasons, must admit that in recent years I have distanced myself a lot from the retail market, and above all from the collector's market.

The latest edition special that I bought was the collector's edition of The Last Of Us Part 2, the one for € 189.99 with the Ellie figure in the package, and I can tell you with great sincerity that I still regret it a little today. I can't explain why, also because it's an absolute masterpiece and a title that simply amazed and enraptured me but probably, going back, I wouldn't make the purchase again. For the whole series of reasons that I have listed, I must admit that I am very afraid for the future of the collector's edition market. Either because of the price increase, or because of the contents of the packs that are increasingly "broken in two" between versions that are too rich and versions that are too poor, or simply because of the rise of the digital market, I believe that the future of videogame collectors could not necessarily be very promising. Let me be clear, some editions are still well done and I myself have had several jolts (thankfully appeased) in the last few months, but it is equally evident that in any case these are less and less numerous and much more isolated cases. With this, understand me, I am not saying that it is no longer worth buying collector's editions or that the latter have become the devil, but I am convinced that over time this feeling of coldness and impassivity towards this market could become even more more marked, especially if you continue to strike the iron with ideas (like that of removing the game!) lackluster and, to be polite, questionable. Time will tell, they say. Meanwhile, my wallet is thanking me a bit, and that's something. No?

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